Pablo Neruda's Funerals

By Mario Casasús, 25/09/2013

Mexico City. - This September 23 marks the 40th anniversary of the death (murder? ) Of the American poet Pablo Neruda. The episode has been addressed by the documentary , film , radio , books ... Now the Chilean Luis Sepúlveda and Italian Renzo Sicco just premiered the play Neruda 's funeral , which speaks the first interview. On a side note, the writer Rafael Vargas Escalante synthesizes his unpublished book on relations with Mexico Neruda , the poet's desire to live in our country .

The pilgrimage of the bones of the poet Pablo Neruda began on May 7, 1974 , when they moved the coffin to the niche 44 Mexico Street in Santiago General Cemetery , his remains were motionless in the Chilean capital until 12 December 1992. However, the day of the funeral as repression officer returned that evening of September 25, 1973 , recalls the librarian Martner Maria Eugenia Velasco , daughter of Francisco Velasco and Maria Martner , the best friends of Neruda in Valparaiso : "I was on top of Isla Negra , with my parents and very excited Teruca Hamel ceremony of the remains - entry , when I give the order to suppress and the police came down the street leading to the beach , riding horses , I saw people tearing up the rocks and some flags thrown on the sand. It was an outrageous spectacle . "

Forty years later, the poet's tomb is empty , the bones lie in the morgue of Forensic Medicine and a pair of bone samples are in the University of North Carolina and the University of Murcia to try to clarify , from its laboratories toxicology, the alleged murder on the night of September 23, 1973 , reported by process a couple of years ago . The funeral will be the final third an apology to the two ceremonies repressed by the state in 1973 and 1992 .

Two documentaries reported the first funeral : Santiago . City violated ( Sweden , 1973) by Jan Sandquist , and September Chilean (France , 1973 ) by Bruno Muel . It also has other records, but television format , and there are photographs of the Venezuelan essential Fina Torres , Chilean and Brazilian Marcelo Montecino Evandro Teixeira , emphasizing the graphic details Neruda 's face in the coffin , that belie the cachexia ( extreme malnutrition ) who certified the cause of death , and show the weight of 100 kilos of the poet when he died , so the alleged murder regains strength.

Two books recorded the first funeral : Neruda : funeral and testament ( Spain , 1973 ) , written by Alvaro Sarmiento ( with photographs by Fina Torres) , and guarded Funeral , written by Sergio Villegas , who actually is an excerpt from the book : The Stadium . September 11th in the country of Eden ( Argentina , 1974 ) .

40 years after the event comes a new play, written by playwright and novelist Luis Sepulveda Chilean and Italian Renzo Sicco . In an interview with Proceso , the first account of avatars after racks of the piece titled : Neruda 's funeral .

- Luis , you entered the School of Theatre at the University of Chile, and the Young Communist militaste under the influence of the poetry of Neruda. Remember the two foundational decisions in your life to write the play Neruda 's funeral ?

- When alongside Renzo throwing sat Sicco line that later would work, rather than anything we think of the materials at our disposal : the testimony of the driver of Neruda , Renzo talent when texts become theater written to be read as parts of a book, and what the two had gathered information on the subject. Renzo and Theatre Assemblea dramatized many of my books or parts of them , and the results have always been very good . It's almost a ritual that every time I present a new book in Italy , begin to do so in Turin , and tables Renzo carries a part of the book. We share a friendship of many years and that makes it much any job we undertake.

. - How would you describe the creative process with Renzo Sicco ? Who came up with the idea of writing Neruda 's funeral ?

- With Renzo Sicco agree in many respects, a part is my theatrical training and other long experience directing and adapting literary works for the theater. The idea existed , had dramatized a text Renzo mine about Neruda 's death , and that was the starting point. I do not know if we can speak of a creative process , because we both have experience , and that experience enables us to decide which part of the work 's naturalism , where else is best experimental theater , Grotowski Stanislawski pass , or Brecht and alienation , or use elements of commedia dell'arte . Both have knowledge and put at the service of the work we want to achieve .

. - When you first saw European documentaries filmed Neruda 's funeral ?

I started to see documentary material in Europe , since 1980 , I watched with excitement , of course. I also met the first years of the Resistance in Chile, the first organizational efforts and to gather all the material that could save to keep a record of the historical memory of the country.

. - Knew the stage adaptation of "Funeral guarded . The farewell to Pablo Neruda " ( 1974 ) written by Sergio Villegas ?

- No, I do not know if he knew Renzo . Once, in the 80s I saw a play that set up the Berliner Ensemble, Brecht's theater in East Berlin .

. - What kind of comments received during the first staging of Neruda 's funeral ?

- Both in Chile and in all countries where the work has shown the emotional response has been enthusiastic, and has generated debate , so with that we are satisfied .

. - Reissued Neruda 's funeral in the rest of Latin America ?

- If anyone wants to edit, that's fine , as long as that is not the Pablo Neruda Foundation . Several Latin American theater groups have staged the play and we very much like the multiplication of effort.

. - How Neruda 's death recorded on the play?

- We avoid the precise time of death because the act of birth and the act of dying are the two most intimate ceremonies humans, and they do not want to make speculations about the agony , that would have been an unwarranted morbidity .

. - What do you think about the possibility of murder denounced by Manuel Araya in the weekly process ?

- As stated in the first adaptation of a text adapted by Renzo mine , there are many ways to kill a poet . One is the denial of timely medical care , another is to condemn to witness near death so many colleagues I Neruda wanted , compel him to know of the persecution and death of the humble and the young people Neruda gave heart always . And there is also the possibility of premeditated murder . Manuel Araya statements and that little by little we have met , and that Pinochet had nerve agents capable of killing the entire population of Santiago , very likely make the idea of murder .

. - Did you read the news about the exhumation of Neruda? , Is to dig up the past ?

- I have kept abreast of everything that has happened with the exhumation and now , like many , I hope the final results that will deliver forensic pathologists. The past is there , is very recent , not buried . They wanted to bury him but failed .

. - What do you think the role of Neruda Foundation to invest the copyright of the poet in the company of an adviser to Pinochet and its refusal to fulfill the last wishes of Neruda?

- I do not share anything he has done and Pablo Neruda Foundation . I feel unworthy to have violated the will and the will of Neruda. I had a very hard with the Neruda Foundation when President Bush visited Chile and his wife asked to visit one of the houses of the poet. My opinion was that simply said no, and no further discussion , but as he had strange reasons of state that seemed absurd .

* Mexico correspondent of Clarín of Chile. Interview originally published in the weekly Proceso ( 22/09/2013 ) .