Suspicions grow that Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was murdered by Pinochet regime

November 5, 2015
SANTIAGO, Chile — Experts will perform new tests on Chilean poet Pablo Neruda‘s remains to analyze a mysterious bacteria that has heightened his family’s suspicions he was poisoned by dictator Augusto Pinochet’s regime, officials said Friday.

An international team of 13 experts will attempt to determine the origin of a massive Staphylococcus aureus infection in the Nobel laureate’s remains, which was identified in May by forensic scientists at the Universidad de Murcia in Spain.

Doubts have surrounded the cause of Neruda‘s 1973 death since his former driver claimed the poet was given a mysterious injection in his chest at the Santiago clinic where he was being treated for prostate cancer.

Neruda, who had been planning to leave for Mexico to lead the opposition to Pinochet’s regime, died hours after the injection. He was 69.

The cause of death was given as advanced prostate cancer, but in 2013 officials exhumed his body after a request from the Chilean Communist Party, of which Neruda was a member.

Chile’s forensic medicine service ruled that “no relevant chemical agents” could be linked to his death.

But the Spanish study has rekindled his family’s suspicions.

Chilean officials said a group of Chilean, Spanish, American, Canadian and Danish experts would now analyze the bacteria’s DNA.

“The main objective of the investigation is to determine whether he died of natural causes or because of outside intervention,” said Rodrigo Lledo, head of the Chilean interior ministry’s human rights program.

He told a press conference that the strain of bacteria found in Neruda‘s remains does not occur naturally and may have been “grown in a laboratory.”

Neruda, who won the 1971 Nobel Prize in literature, died on September 23, 1973, 12 days after Pinochet ousted socialist president Salvador Allende in a coup, installing a brutal regime that killed some 3,200 opponents over 17 years.

Recommended: What Augusto Pinochet’s 1998 arrest has meant for global human rights

You may be interested

Of snow, kindness and Northern Lights: a Costa Rican in Manitoba, Canada
Please Send Coffee!
1009 views
Please Send Coffee!
1009 views

Of snow, kindness and Northern Lights: a Costa Rican in Manitoba, Canada

Gustavo Díaz Cruz - December 14, 2017

My mom named me Gustavo Adolfo. I was born in Puntarenas, next to the sea, but my home was in…

Response to disaster: aid successes, struggles in post-Maria Puerto Rico
Weather
1048 views
Weather
1048 views

Response to disaster: aid successes, struggles in post-Maria Puerto Rico

John McPhaul - December 13, 2017

As Costa Rica joins many other nations in looking back upon the horrendous 2017 hurricane season, longtime Tico Times contributor…

Looking back at Hurricane Maria: the initial impact
Weather
1967 views
Weather
1967 views

Looking back at Hurricane Maria: the initial impact

John McPhaul - December 12, 2017

As Costa Rica joins many other nations in looking back upon the devastating 2017 hurricane season, longtime Tico Times contributor…