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Aug 19, 2003
Hopefully we'll soon have an answer.

Pablo Neruda: Chile exhumes poet's body in murder probe

Members of Chile's Medical Legal Service dig up the grave in Isla Negra

Forensic experts in Chile have exhumed the remains of the poet, Pablo Neruda, who died in 1973.

The Chilean authorities want to establish whether he died of cancer or was poisoned on the orders of Chile's military ruler, Gen Augusto Pinochet.

Pablo Neruda, a Nobel Prize winner, was a member of the Communist Party and a staunch supporter of ousted Chilean President Salvador Allende.

Neruda died aged 69 just 12 days after Gen Pinochet's coup against Allende.

The head of Chile's Medical Legal Service, Patricio Bustos, said the poet's body was exhumed in about an hour on Monday and tests will be carried out on his remains in the capital, Santiago.

Pablo Neruda was buried next to his wife Matile Urritia in the garden of their home on Chile's Pacific coast in Isla Negra, some 120km (75 miles) west of Santiago.

His family maintains that he died of advanced prostate cancer.

'Suspicious injection'
In 2011, Chile started investigating allegations by his former driver and personal assistant, Manuel Araya, that Neruda had been poisoned.

Mr Araya says Neruda called him from hospital, and told him he was feeling sick after having been given an injection in the stomach.

Pablo Neruda had planned to go into exile in Mexico
The allegations are backed by the Chilean Communist Party, which says that Neruda did not exhibit any of the symptoms associated with the advanced cancer he is reported to have died from.

A nephew of Neruda, Rodolfo Reyes, said the family wanted to know the truth "regardless of whether he died of natural causes or was murdered".

Neruda, best known for his love poems, was a close friend of Salvador Allende.

After 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 Pinochet.

Historian Fernando Marin is one of those who thinks 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 Mr Marin.

"He had a urinary infection and an adenoma (benign tumour) on his prostate according to the medical tests, but he wasn't going to die," Mr Marin told Reuters news agency.

More than 3,000 people were "disappeared" and killed under the 17 years of Gen Pinochet's military rule (1973-1990).
But its not over yet...

'No poison found' in Chile poet Pablo Neruda's remains

Emily Thomas reports: ''Four decades of suspicion hang over Pablo Neruda's death''

No traces of poison have been found in the remains of Chile's Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda, forensic experts say.

The results were announced after more than six months of tests by 15 Chilean and foreign experts.

The left-wing poet died in 1973, days after the military coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power.

His body was exhumed in April to establish whether he died of poisoning, as his driver and others suspected.

Neruda, who died aged 69, was a close friend of ousted Chilean President Salvador Allende.

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A very important chapter has closed and was done very seriously but this is not over”

Eduardo Contreras
Chilean Communist Party lawyer
"No traces of chemical agents have been found," said Patricio Bustos, director of the Chilean Forensic Service, on Friday.

Mr Bustos confirmed that Neruda's remains seemed to support the official line that he had died of cancer.

However, Friday's highly-anticipated results did not satisfy everyone.

"The Neruda case doesn't close today," said Chilean Communist Party lawyer Eduardo Contreras.

"Today we are going to request more samples. They referred to chemical agents but there are no studies about biological agents. A very important chapter has closed and was done very seriously but this is not over."

Neruda and President Salvador Allende (undated image)
Neruda was a friend of ousted Chilean leader Salvador Allende, left
Neruda's driver and personal assistant, Manuel Araya, had maintained that the poet was poisoned.

Mr Araya said Neruda had called him from hospital, and told him he was feeling sick after having been given an injection in the stomach.

Chile began investigating Mr Araya's allegations in 2011.

The suspicions were backed by the Chilean Communist Party, which said Neruda did not exhibit any of the symptoms associated with the advanced prostate cancer he was said to have died of.

They said that the military government feared Neruda would go into exile in Mexico and campaign against the Pinochet regime.
Chile’s government has acknowledged that Nobel-prize winning poet Pablo Neruda might have been killed after the 1973 coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power.

The interior ministry released a statement on Thursday amid press reports that Neruda might not have died of cancer as previously believed.
The statement acknowledged a ministry document dated March of this year, which was published by the newspaper El Pais in Spain.

“It’s clearly possible and highly probable that a third party” was responsible for Neruda’s death, the document said.

However, the ministry cautioned that a panel of experts investigating the highly disputed topic had not reached a conclusion.

Fascinating. I did not know of this story about the famous poet. Certainly, it is true that the Pinochet regime murdered thousands of people, and now I see that there are grounds to believe that he may have been one of them.
The latest.

Chilean poet Pablo Neruda did not die of prostate cancer, forensic experts have said.

The Nobel Laureate was said to have died of cancer in 1973, less than two weeks after a military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet.

But his former driver Manuel Araya maintains he actually died after being poisoned by the secret service.

New tests on Neruda's remains have now confirmed he did not die of cancer, but have yet to reveal the actual cause.

Dr Aurelio Luna told a press conference the experts were "100% convinced" that the death certificate "does not reflect the reality of the death".

The poet was suffering from prostate cancer, but it was not life-threatening - leading the experts to conclude a third party could have possibly been involved.

They will now carry out tests on a toxin found in his remains, which were exhumed on a judge's orders in 2013.

But the story still has legs.

Chilean poet and diplomat Pablo Neruda died in Santiago, Chile, in September 1973, 12 days after the country’s president, Salvador Allende, was ousted by a military coup led by Chilean General Augusto Pinochet. Neruda’s official cause of death was listed as prostate cancer, but many around him suspected he had been murdered by poisoning in his hospital bed because of his closeness with the overthrown president. However, the accusers lacked forensic proof.

This week, Neruda’s family announced results from a recent toxicological investigation of Neruda’s body that it says conclusively shows the poet was indeed poisoned. Following an exhumation order of Neruda’s body 10 years ago, forensic investigators from four countries inspected Neruda’s corpse for the chemical signatures of poisons, toxins, or other signs of foul play. The tests revealed the presence of the Clostridium botulinum, a neurotoxin that paralyzes muscles and the nervous system and eventually leads to death, in the teeth of the famed writer, The Guardian reports.

Experts at McMaster University and the University of Copenhagen ruled out the possibility that the toxin may have leaked into the body postmortem, suggesting the probable cause of death was intentional poisoning. According to The Guardian, Neruda’s descendants insist agents of the Pinochet-led government administered the toxin to Neruda. ...

And another investigation!

The death of Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda days after Chile’s 1973 military coup should be reinvestigated, an appeals court has ruled, saying new steps could help clarify what killed the poet.

Last December, a judge rejected a request by Mr Neruda’s nephew to reopen the case to look for causes other than cancer, which was listed on his death certificate.

The nephew, Rodolfo Reyes, said forensic experts from Canada, Denmark and Chile had found evidence pointing to Mr Neruda being poisoned.

Mr Reyes said forensic tests carried out in Danish and Canadian labs indicated Mr Neruda’s body contained “a great quantity of Cloristridium botulinum, which is incompatible with human life”.

The toxin can cause nervous system paralysis and death.

The ruling was the latest turn in one of the great debates of post-coup Chile....