Pablo Neruda: Poems

Controversy

Rumored murder and exhumation

In June 2013, a Chilean judge ordered that an investigation be launched, following suggestions that Neruda had been killed by the Pinochet regime for his pro-Allende stance and political views. Neruda's driver, Manuel Araya, stated that doctors had administered poison as the poet was preparing to go into exile.[54][55] In December 2011 Chile's Communist Party asked Chilean Judge Mario Carroza to order the exhumation of the remains of the poet. Carroza had been conducting probes into hundreds of deaths allegedly connected to abuses of Pinochet's regime from 1973 to 1990.[53][56] Carroza's inquiry during 2011–12 uncovered enough evidence to order the exhumation in April 2013.[57] Eduardo Contreras, a Chilean lawyer who was leading the push for a full investigation, commented: "We have world-class labs from India, Switzerland, Germany, the US, Sweden, they have all offered to do the lab work for free." The Pablo Neruda Foundation fought the exhumation under the grounds that the Araya's claims were unbelievable.[55]

In June 2013 a court order was issued to find the man who allegedly poisoned Neruda. Police were investigating Michael Townley, who was facing trial for the killings of General Carlos Prats (Buenos Aires, 1974), and ex Chancellor Orlando Letelier (Washington, 1976).[58][59]

Test results were released on 8 November 2013 of the seven-month investigation by a 15-member forensic team. Patricio Bustos, the head of Chile's medical legal service, stated "No relevant chemical substances have been found that could be linked to Mr. Neruda's death" at the time.[60] However, Carroza said that he was waiting for the results of the last scientific tests conducted in May (2015), which found that Neruda was infected with the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium, which can be highly toxic and result in death if modified.[4]

A team of 16 international experts led by Spanish forensic specialist Aurelio Luna from the University of Murcia announced on 20 October 2017 that "from analysis of the data we cannot accept that the poet had been in an imminent situation of death at the moment of entering the hospital" and that death from prostate cancer was not likely at the moment when he died. The team also discovered something in Neruda's remains that could possibly be a laboratory-cultivated bacteria. The results of their continuing analysis are expected in 2018.[61]


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