What Proteins in Pablo Neruda's Remains Suggest
Reuters views forensic experts' initial report, still no sign he was poisoned
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2015 11:54 AM CDT
This Oct. 21, 1971 file photo shows Pablo Neruda.   (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours, File)

(Newser) – It's another strike against the claim of Pablo Neruda's chauffeur, who contends that agents of Augusto Pinochet poisoned the acclaimed Chilean poet by injecting something into his stomach while he was being treated for cancer. Neruda died in 1973 and was exhumed 40 years later; in late 2013, forensic test results showed no chemical agents in his bones. Now, an initial report drafted by Spanish researchers and seen by Reuters similarly finds no indication he was murdered.

In reporting Chile's reopening of the investigation, the BBC in January explained that a new round of tests would zero in on whether "chemical agents caused any cellular or protein damage"; the aim of prior testing was to look for remnants of poison. Reuters explains that three types of protein were identified in Neruda's remains by Universidad de Murcia forensic experts: two proteins could be related to advanced prostate cancer; the experts were less sure about the other, but the report suggested it could have a natural source (perhaps an infection, or something that arose from how his body was handled post-mortem). The case isn't closed: An expert panel will weigh in, and a genomic analysis has yet to be completed.