Chile ordered the retrial of Pablo Neruda’s death

The First Chamber of the Santiago Court of Appeal ordered the reopening of the investigation into the death of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, which occurred 12 days after the defeat of Salvador Allende’s socialist government by Augusto Pinochet’s coup in September 1973.

“The background shows that the investigations have not yet been exhausted and that there are concrete procedures that could help clarify the facts (…) the investigations are ordered to be resumed,” says the court in a unanimously published judgment.

The responsible judge, Paola Plaza, must clarify whether the Nobel Prize winner died of prostate cancer or whether he was actually poisoned by a secret agent of the dictatorship.

“The unanimity of the judgment gives impetus to our appeal. We managed to remove the tombstone they wanted to put up for this investigation. “We have been fighting for 14 years to resolve Neruda’s death,” Elizabeth Flores, the family’s lawyer, told EFE.

“This decision is very important because it confirms our complaints and our background that in the context in which the death occurred there was an intervention by the state terrorism apparatus of the civil-military dictatorship,” explained EFE head of political relations Juan Andrés Lagos of the PC.

Pablo Neruda

Photo: AFP

The death of Pablo Neruda before his escape into exile in Mexico

The author of “Twenty Love Poems and a Desperate Song”, “The Captain’s Verses” and “Canto General” and others died on September 23, 1973 in the Santa María Clinic in Santiago, the day before he went into exile in Mexico.

Given the circumstances, the theory that the author was actually poisoned arose and was first raised publicly by the poet’s driver and personal secretary, Manuel Araya, who died in June last year and was one of the last people to see him. with life.

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Thanks to his testimony, the Communist Party filed a lawsuit and triggered the investigation in 2011, which must be reopened today.

“The truth takes time to arrive, but it happens little by little. “It is a great feat of justice that we have been demanding for years for my uncle Pablo,” Rodolfo Reyes, the plaintiff and the poet’s nephew, told EFE.

The investigation involved three panels of international experts and took a turn in 2017 when the second group of specialists rejected the official version that Neruda died of prostate cancer. In addition, “Clostridium botulinum” was found in the poet’s tooth.

Pablo Neruda

Photo: AFP

Found the bacteria

Clostridium botulinum is a bacillus that is usually found in soil and can cause problems in the nervous system that can lead to death.

A third group of experts from the universities of McMaster (Canada) and Copenhagen (Denmark) showed a year ago that the bacteria “were in his body at the time of death”; For the family, this is irrefutable proof that Pablo Neruda was “poisoned” during his hospital stay.

“Since 2017, Neruda has been screaming that he has ‘Clostridium botulinum’ in his body and that it came to him through the intervention of third parties,” said attorney Flores.

However, this remains a mystery and it is not known how (naturally or intentionally) the botulinum toxin entered the body, as it is also usually found in poorly preserved canned foods.

In this new ruling, the First Chamber of the Santiago Court of Appeal ordered the carrying out of several procedures, including a calligraphic examination of the death certificate and the recording of new declarations.

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