Pablo Neruda to Be Exhumed

Judge orders autopsy to see if he was poisoned

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 8, 2013 8:38 AM CST

(Newser) – Pablo Neruda is about to get the Yasser Arafat treatment. Neruda chauffeur Manuel Araya has been claiming for years that agents of Augusto Pinochet poisoned the acclaimed poet while he was being treated for cancer. Next month, authorities will dig up his corpse to see if that's true. Judge Mario Carroza, who is overseeing an investigation into the hundreds who "disappeared" during Pinochet's regime, ordered an autopsy following an official request from Chile's Communist Party, the LA Times reports.

Though most famous as a poet, Neruda was a serious communist activist, the Irish Times points out; he once, for instance, organized the transport of 2,000 Spanish Civil War refugees to Chile. He was a major Salvador Allende supporter, serving as his ambassador to France, and hence an enemy of Pinochet, who overthrew Allende's elected government. The Pablo Neruda Foundation says it believes the official explanation that Neruda died of prostate cancer in 1973, less than two weeks after Pinochet's coup, but welcomed the exhumation all the same.

In this Dec. 1941 file photo, 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.
In this Dec. 1941 file photo, 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 Photo, File)
In this Oct. 21, 1971 file photo, Pablo Neruda, poet and then Chilean ambassador to France, talks with reporters in Paris after being awarded the 1971 Nobel Prize for Literature.
In this Oct. 21, 1971 file photo, Pablo Neruda, poet and then Chilean ambassador to France, talks with reporters in Paris after being awarded the 1971 Nobel Prize for Literature.   (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours, File)
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