Chile reburies Nobel-winning poet Pablo Neruda

Doubts have surrounded his death since former driver claimed the poet was given a mysterious injection in his chest


Afp April 26, 2016
Doubts have surrounded his death since former driver claimed the poet was given a mysterious injection in his chest. PHOTO: FILE

ISLA NEGRA, CHILE: Chile reburied Nobel prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda's remains Tuesday after exhuming them to determine whether he was assassinated by late dictator Augusto Pinochet's regime -- a mystery that still lingers.

A casket bearing Neruda's remains was buried at his one-time home in the Pacific coast resort town of Isla Negra, where authorities had dug them up three years ago to analyse whether he was poisoned.

Neruda died in 1973 aged 69, just days after Pinochet, then the head of the army, overthrew Socialist president Salvador Allende in a bloody coup.

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The poet, who was also a prominent politician and member of the Chilean Communist party, had been preparing to flee into exile to lead the resistance against Pinochet's regime.

Chilean forensic personnel carry the coffin of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda during a ceremony in Isla Negra, some 120 km west of Santiago, on April 26,2016. PHOTO: AFP

He died in a Santiago clinic where he was being treated for prostate cancer -- the official cause of his death.

Doubts have surrounded his death since his former driver claimed the poet was given a mysterious injection in his chest.

A team of international specialists who examined the remains are due to release their findings in May.

Neruda's coffin, draped in a red, white and blue Chilean flag, lay in state in the Congress in Santiago on Monday after being transferred from the forensic medical service where it was examined.

"I feel proud that they listened to me once and for all," the poet's former driver, Manuel Araya, told AFP.

The lawyer who brought the case to have the remains examined, Eduardo Contreras, told AFP that since so much time had passed, there was a risk the tests would be inconclusive.

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Memorabilia of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda in Isla Negra, some 120 km west of Santiago, on April 26, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

"Even though all the evidence points to a crime, it will be technically very difficult to prove," he said.

But "anyone who sees the thousands of volumes of evidence" will conclude that Neruda was assassinated, he added.

Pinochet, who went on to rule Chile for 17 years, installed a regime that killed some 3,200 leftist activists and other suspected opponents.

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