Pablo Neruda died at the age 69 allegedly from advanced prostrate cancer just 12 days after the military coup by Pinochet, which unseated his close friend Salvador Allende the left wing reformist President of Chile. Gabriel Garcia Marquez hailed Neruda “the greatest poet of the 20th Century in any language”.
It was well known where his political sympathies lay and he was advised by the Mexican Embassy to go into exile. The day before he was due to leave he was rushed to hospital where he died suddenly. Over forty years suspicions have remained of foul play and that he was poisoned. One of the arguments being that he was a danger to the new government because he would write against their regime from Mexico.
In 2013 a Chilean judge ordered his body be exhumed and autopsied, which was carried out in April of that year. In November, the official report of an international forensic team stated they could find no evidence of his murder. Despite their conclusion, mystery still surrounds the circumstances of his death and the debate and investigation continues.
Even members of his family are divided in their views and the Chilean Communist party point out that this is the 3rd time Pablo Neruda’s body has been exhumed and that many bodies were disposed of through illicit means under the Pinochet regime, in which case the body examined by the foresnic team may not be Pablo Neruda’s body at all.
(Robin Ouzman Hislop)
See also Poems of Pablo Neruda