Chile has opened a new investigation into the death in 1973 of Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda.
Government spokesman Francisco Ugas said there were indications that Pablo Neruda could have been poisoned.
Tests on Pablo Neruda’s exhumed body in 2013 found no trace of poison but more will now be done. His death certificate says he died of prostate cancer.
Pablo Neruda died 12 days after the military coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power.
Photo AFP/Getty Images
Although he was best known for his poetry, Pablo Neruda was a lifelong member of Chile’s Communist Party, a lawmaker and a former ambassador to France.
Pablo Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971.
New forensic tests on Pablo Neruda’s remains will be looking for inorganic or heavy metals to try to determine a direct or indirect cause of death, officials said.
The investigation will focus on detecting if chemical agents caused any cellular or protein damage.
The previous tests looked specifically for the remains of poison.
“There is initial evidence that he was poisoned and in that sense the signs point to the intervention of specific agents,” Francisco Ugas, who is head of the government’s humans rights department, said.
Pablo Neruda’s body was exhumed in April 2013 to establish whether he died of poisoning, as his driver Manuel Araya and others suspected.
Manuel Araya said Pablo Neruda, who was 69, had called him from hospital in Santiago, and told him he was feeling sick after having been given an injection in the stomach.
Some believe Pablo Neruda was poisoned because he was a staunch supporter of deposed President Salvador Allende and it was believed he would become a leader of opposition to the dictatorship.
Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s remains are to be exhumed, forensic experts have announced.
Chilean authorities want to establish whether Pablo Neruda died of cancer or was poisoned on the orders of country’s former military ruler General Augusto Pinochet.
Pablo Neruda, a Nobel Prize winner who died in 1973, was a member of the Communist Party and a staunch supporter of ousted Chilean president Salvador Allende.
The poet died aged 69 just 12 days after Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s coup against Salvador Allende.
Pablo Neruda’s family maintains that he died of advanced prostate cancer.
Pablo Neruda, a Nobel Prize winner who died in 1973, was a member of the Communist Party and a staunch supporter of ousted Chilean president Salvador Allende
In 2011, Chile started investigating allegations by his former driver and personal assistant, Manuel Araya, that Pablo Neruda had been poisoned.
Manuel Araya says Pablo Neruda called him from hospital, and told him he was feeling sick after having been given an injection in the stomach.
His allegations are backed by the Chilean Communist Party, which says that Pablo Neruda did not exhibit any of the symptoms associated with the advanced cancer he is reported to have died from.
Members of Chile’s Medical Legal Service began to dig up Pablo Neruda’s grave on Sunday.
Pablo Neruda is buried next to his wife Matile Urritia in the garden of their home on Chile’s Pacific coast in Isla Negra, some 75 miles west of the capital, Santiago.
A nephew of Pablo Neruda, Rodolfo Reyes, said the family wanted to know the truth “regardless of whether he died of natural causes or was murdered”.
Pablo Neruda, best known for his love poems, was a close friend of the socialist president Salvador Allende.
After Salvador Allende was toppled in the 11 September 1973 coup, the poet arranged to go into exile in Mexico, where he was expected to join the opposition to the military rule of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
Historian Fernando Marin is one of those who thinks Pablo Neruda’s plans to go abroad, and his sudden death, were linked.
“No one doubts that there was a plane waiting for Pablo Neruda at Pudahuel airport when he died,” according to Fernando Marin.
“He had a urinary infection and an adenoma [benign tumor] on his prostate according to the medical tests, but he wasn’t going to die,” Fernando Marin told Reuters news agency.
More than 3,000 people were disappeared and killed under Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s military rule between 1973 and 1990.
A Chilean court has ordered the exhumation of the remains of poet Pablo Neruda, as part of an inquest into his death in 1973.
Pablo Neruda, a left-wing Nobel Prize winner, died 12 days after a military coup replaced the socialist president Salvador Allende with General Augusto Pinochet.
The poet’s family has always maintained that he died in a Santiago clinic of advanced prostate cancer, aged 69.
Chile started investigating allegations that he may have been poisoned in 2011.
The date of the exhumation has not been fixed yet.
Pablo Neruda’s body is buried next to his wife Matilde Urrutia in Isla Negra, 70 miles west of the capital Santiago.
Pablo Neruda was a Communist and a friend of President Salvador Allende.
But the foundation that guards his legacy says it believes Pablo Neruda died of cancer.
In a statement, it said it had been informed by the authorities of the exhumation plans a few days ago.
It also stated that it expected the operation would be executed “with the greatest possible respect and care” and that it would end “any doubts that might exist”.
A Chilean court has ordered the exhumation of the remains of poet Pablo Neruda, as part of an inquest into his death in 1973
The current investigation was brought about after Pablo Neruda’s former driver, Manuel Araya Osorio, said that agents injected the poet with poison at the clinic on the orders of General Augusto Pinochet.
Pablo Neruda was a fierce critic of the military coup, which he saw as a betrayal of his country.
His death is not the only one from that time to be re-examined.
In December 2011, after the remains of President Salvador Allende were exhumed, it was confirmed that he committed suicide, and was not killed by soldiers who stormed the presidential palace during the coup, as some had argued.
Relatives of victims of General Augusto Pinochet’s military rule in Chile have protested against plans to pay homage to the late dictator this weekend.
They held a rally in Santiago, calling for the screening of a new pro-Pinochet documentary to be banned.
The relatives say it is insensitive, but the government says it is a private event and it will not intervene.
More than 3,000 people disappeared or were killed during General Augusto Pinochet’s rule, which ended in 1990.
Relatives of victims of General Augusto Pinochet's military rule in Chile have protested against plans to pay homage to the late dictator this weekend
General Augusto Pinochet, who ruled the South American nation for 17 years, died in 2006.
The protesters held a rally at a former detention and torture centre in the Chilean capital.
Many wore photos of their relatives.
“In Chile, state-sponsored terrorism existed. Forced disappearances existed. Torture existed. Executions. And the systematic violation of hundreds of Chileans. We cannot allow this. We can’t allow a tribute to this,” Alejandra Arriaza, of the Corporation for the Promotion and Defence of People’s Rights was quoted as saying by the AP news agency.
The documentary, Pinochet, will be screened in a theatre in Santiago on Sunday.
The organizers say it aims to show General Augusto Pinochet as he really was, and not as the media portrayed him – as a ruthless dictator.
Right-wing politicians and former members of the Chilean military have been invited.
The controversy shows how divisive General Augusto Pinochet remains, nearly four decades after the coup that brought him to power.
For some he was a hero who saved Chile from Communism, but for others he was as brutal murderer who should be reviled, not applauded.