Manuel Mejido: "The military killed the Popular Unity symbols, Neruda was the great symbol"

By Mario Casasus; June 18, 2013

Mexico City. - In an interview with Manuel Clarí Megiddo (1932), sent Excelsior newspaper in September 1973, speaks of the coup and the alleged murder of Neruda: "The military killed the Popular Unity symbols, Neruda was the great symbol, the military regime had to install the new gods, for the conquest of America, in 1521 - the Spanish destroyed the Aztec pyramids to build Catholic churches, the murderers of Pinochet wanted to do the same-in 1973 - but who could replace Neruda, the dictatorship was that out of the way to Neruda, the poet had more guns than any country that wanted to overthrow Pinochet ". Mexican journalist wrote: "Neruda had obtained a safe conduct to travel to Mexico to go into the Cancer Institute" in 1973 thought that the poet had died of cancer and sadness, however 40 years later does not rule out the possibility of murder .

MC. - In the book "This happened in Chile" (1974), you said: "Neruda had obtained a safe conduct of the military junta to travel to Mexico to go into the Cancer Institute," but did not cite the source? who told the details for Neruda in Mexico?
MM. - Colonel Manuel Díaz Escobar, Mexico Military Attache in Chile. President Luis Echeverria sent two captains of the Mexican Army to see if they could get along with the Chilean military and help in processing the CLP, I remember the captain and the captain Orlando Valle Carrillo Olea, I'm sure the politician Gustavo Carvajal should know where is the captain of the Valley, if you're interested interview, I know that Captain Carrillo Olea died. In Mexico Embassy received information on the transfer of Neruda Cancer Institute, most political Popular Unity came to seek asylum the government of Mexico, at the Embassy met survivors of the Currency, at the Embassy I interviewed the widow of President Allende, Doña Hortensia Bussi-the Associated Press Agency offered me $ 50,000 for the exclusive, but I said the interview was Excelsior.

MC. - Neruda visited the Santa Maria Hospital?
MM. - No.

MC. - Where did you receive the news of the death of Neruda?, Did you attend the funeral?
MM. - We received the news at the Embassy and the impossibility of anything, Neruda's funeral had watched, it was closer to put me to jail or give me a shot, dictatorship knew that a Mexican journalist was sending several complaint reports abroad. The truth, when pondering news of what is happening with the dictatorship, Neruda went into the background, I thought: I wish to be buried in peace, unfortunately so think a journalist during the coup, you do emergency journalism and reporting , not cultural journalism.

MC. - You wrote, in 1974 - that Neruda died of sadness ...
MM. - Of course it affected the coup, there was a huge sadness for what happened in Chile, at the very end of his life, in old age one becomes more feeble and sensitive.

MC. - Neruda When did you meet?
MM. - In Mexico, in 1966 - I visited him three times in the Hotel Reforma, was a good man, affable and warm with people, I was very young, Neruda did not have to listen to me, however politely chatted with me after to finish the job interview.

MC. - Rule out the theory of the alleged murder of Neruda?
MM. - No, it could happen, the military killed the Popular Unity symbols, Neruda was the great symbol, the military regime had to install the new gods, for the conquest of America, in 1521 - the Spanish destroyed the Aztec pyramids to build Catholic churches, the murderers of Pinochet wanted to do the same, in 1973 - but who could replace Neruda, the dictatorship was that out of the way to Neruda, the poet had more guns than any country that would Pinochet overthrow.

MC. - In the case of President Allende, journalists presented two theories in 1973: suicide and assassination, do you ever suspected the alleged murder of Neruda?
MM. - No. The news flowed endlessly, and came a Military Bando, or featured a shot, or you reported the arrest of a new political prisoner. Embassy of Mexico in the 23 employees interviewed President Salvador Allende Gonzalo Martinez walked me Corbalá-them together in a round table to reconstruct the last hours of the President at La Moneda, the 23 had been to the last minute with the President; one of them, Rene Farias Long asked me please to come to his house to bring a suitcase, I was accompanied by Spanish journalist Ricardo Liano René's house-he could not leave the Embassy, we opened the bag and took all Communist books, but then I read a piece of paper handwritten on both sides that read: "Salvador Allende in the Hall Toesca" René had brought a kind of logbook and eventually wrote a farewell note to his wife Maria Cristina and their children. With notes of René know what to ask the 23 survivors of La Moneda in Chile nobody knew for sure what had happened inside La Moneda, I interviewed doctors and friends of the President, I spent hours talking to them and confronting them, all agreed that the President Allende committed suicide, my reports were very serious and professional, I knew my work would be for the story, as I have seen has been.

MC. - How often sent their reports on the coup in Excelsior?
MM. - While in Chile was 5 transmissions per day.

MC. - In a country under siege, without the advances of Internet access, and mobile telephony, how was sending five daily notes?
MM. - Telex was a phone at the embassy, I was lucky, but it was also professional dedication, while sleeping on the floor of the office of Consul I saw a Telex and hoped it would work because I had 40 perforated primers to post news to Mexico, but did not sound the Telex, and lit the light bulb power, so I was checking it until I heard a voice: "I speak from Mendoza, Telam Agency Argentina government", I explained that it was a Mexican journalist and needed outside contact.

MC. - When did you come to Chile?
MM. - On September 9th I left the Airport Benito Juarez Mexico City, on the same plane came Dona Hortensia Bussi after a working trip to Mexico, President Allende was waiting at the airport Pudahuel, I had contacted Ambassador Gonzalo Martinez Corbalá, we finalized a date with President Allende on September 11, to reach the air smelled funny Santiago, were rows in bakeries, Chile coup smelled. On the night of September 10, at the Hotel Carrera, I met with Gonzalo Martinez Corbalá and Fernando Gamboa, who had a Mexican painting exhibition in Chile after the coup walked like crazy collecting paintings in the Museum of Fine Arts Forest Park .

MC. - Carrillo Gil Collection, Neruda wrote the introduction to the catalog ...
MM. - Yes, every crazy was with his subject. Gonzalo took me to San Cristobal Hotel Sheraton and the next day there was a coup. In my book the story, this happened in Chile (1974) is a report of 118 pages, I can not do books, reports do 4 pages or 300 pages, in another book tells personal things with the machine-shoulder- I was jugándome life, left the Military Proclamation Number 17 saying: "whoever transmits biased information outside the country will be severely punished by the military justice", the dictatorship cut all communications, the military isolated the country to murder opponents, the only line that was running was very old, in 1917, communicated to Santiago with Mendoza (Argentina), was a telephone line so old that the military does not cut it.

MC. - How many hours passed between the Embassy and the Hotel San Cristobal?
MM. - Curfews were spent at the Embassy, there I met again with Spanish journalist Ricardo Liano, I do not know, and never knew it, because a year after the coup appeared Ricardo Liano's body floating in the river Mapocho- but Ricardo getting safe conducts, documents that were not getting the two captains of the Army or the Military of Mexico that was in contact with the rebels. This could take to the streets, I learned things directly because he had a pass, my wife traveled with me to Santiago, she stayed at the Hotel San Cristobal and I spent the night at the Embassy, I barely slept during the weeks of the coup.

MC. - The first flight of Chilean exiles released on September 16, the second trip was on September 24, the date agreed by Neruda to come to Mexico. Why you did not address any of the two flights to Mexico?
MM. - Not approach any of the flights because they were rejected Corbalá Ambassador Gonzalo Martinez, said, "I want to stay here where the news, I do not go running away", in late September the news of the dictatorship and had fluid 90%, to finish my work staff members of the United Nations, Chile took me, otherwise I do not know how I would have gone, the UN took several foreign journalists to Buenos Aires.

MC. - Will write his memoirs 40 years after the coup, or does his 1974 book reissue?
MM. - The 50 years may not reach them, for 40 years I'm going to agree with journalist Frida Modak because I wanted the book to be updates: This happened in Chile (1974), stop by the dictatorship to the transition from democracy, not a bad idea, want to make the new edition of my book here, but I left because I'm in the "age of the monkey".

MC. - What is the age of the monkey?
MM. - When I grab my grandchildren as they do monkey to monkey around (laughs).

MC. - Someday compile interviews with Picasso, Neruda, Jean Paul Sartre and Gabriel García Márquez?
MM. - I have all my files well organized, pasted together all my interviews to conserve them in a better wey. I would like to edit an anthology of my best interviews.

MC. - You was in the Pedregal neighbor-of Manuel M. PARDINA, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Gonzalo Martinez Corbalá ...
MM. - Manuel was an agronomist, leader of the left, an honest man, he worked with Cuauhtemoc Cardenas Lazaro Cardenas, Cuauhtemoc was my graduate fellow in France along with Porfirio Muñoz Ledo, but then that pair of monsters fought over power (laughs). Gabriel García Márquez is also my neighbor and friend, lives in the Pedregal Gabo because it is a petit bourgeois (laughs).

MC. - Finally, crossing the Don Gonzalo Martinez Peripheral Corbalá lives, do you still frequent it?
MM. - Gonzalo himself up in solitude, should not, laid down arms before he was asked to surrender. I once told Gonzalo's daughter: "I want to talk to my old friend," Gonzalo is 85 years, before we went out for a few drinks, but we can not take or tequila for health problems now, when we took the certificate death under the arm to what is offered (laughs).