Family of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda says new evidence shows he was murdered

Nobel Prize winning poet Pablo Neruda sits in Paris France. Neruda was awarded his Nobel in 1971.
Nobel Prize winning poet Pablo Neruda sits in Paris France. Neruda was awarded his Nobel in 1971. Copyright MICHEL LIPCHITZ/AP1971
By Jonny Walfisz with AP
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The famed Chilean writer and diplomat officially died of cancer just 12 days after a military coup. New evidence suggests that's not what actually killed him.


New evidence has come to light claiming that Chile’s most famous poet might have been murdered 50 years ago.

The Nobel Prize winner and former senator of Chile, Pablo Neruda died of poisoning in 1973, according to forensic experts. His nephew, Rodolfo Reyes, confirmed the change of story from the official position that Neruda died of complications from prostate cancer.

For decades, Neruda’s driver has argued that he was poisoned. The case of Neruda’s death has long been a suspicious one as the writer died just 12 days after the coup d'état led by General Augusto Pinochet displaced the socialist government of his friend Salvador Allende.

Neruda had previously gone into exile from Chile when President Gabriel González Videla outlawed communism in 1948 while the poet was serving a term as Senator for the Communist Party. After his return to Chile in 1952, Neruda maintained his association with socialist politics and was an outspoken speaker on a global scale.

1941, Pablo Neruda, lies in a bed in Mexico City, recovering from injuries police said were inflicted by a group of German nationals in Cuernavaca the day before.AP/AP

Now, 50 years after his death, the forensic report of his death is due to be released on the true cause of Neruda’s death. Several years ago, international forensic experts rejected the official cause of death as cachexia, or weakness and wasting of the body due to chronic illness. Reyes claims that tests have indicated a “a great quantity of Cloristridium botulinum, which is incompatible with human life.” The powerful toxin can cause paralysis in the nervous system and death.

Reyes goes on to say that lab tests have concluded that the toxin was administered when the poet was still alive.

Neruda’s body was exhumed in 2013 to determine the cause of his death. At first no toxic agents were found, but in 2015 the Chilean government claimed it was “highly probably that a third party” was responsible for his death. Neruda was reburied. In 2017, a new team of international scientists rejected cancer as the cause of his death.

Allende, Neruda’s friend and the serving socialist president who was removed in 1973 killed himself rather than surrender to Pinochet’s troops. At that point, Neruda planned to go into exile again. A day before his planned departure, he was taken by ambulance to a clinic in Santiago where he died.

During his life, Neruda accumulated dozens of prizes, including the 1971 Nobel Prize for Literature, but in recent years criticism has appeared from feminist groups over a rape he committed in the 1930s and which he recounted in his book “I Confess That I Have Lived.” He also is criticised for abandoning his only daughter, Malva Marina, because she was born with hydrocephalus.

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