Was Neruda murdered? / "El País", Spain




The death certificate indicates that Pablo Neruda died of prostate cancer on September 23, 1973, 12 days after the military coup that overthrew Salvador Allende. This is what has been established in the official story. But not the version that defends Manuel del Carmen Osorio Araya, Chilean driver 65 and the poet's personal chauffeur during his final months of life. This man claims that the Nobel Prize for Literature was murdered by the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
"After September 11, the poet went into exile in Mexico with his wife Matilda. The plan was to overthrow the tyrant from abroad in less than three months. Was going to ask the world to help oust Pinochet. Before to take the plane after he was admitted to a clinic, they put a lethal injection in the stomach, "says Araya, convinced.

Days after the Pinochet coup, the poet was waiting in a clinic when exiled to Mexico
The chauffeur, sent out of the hospital, never saw alive writer was arrested and taken to the National Stadium
The nephew of the poet supports inquiries. The Neruda Foundation, however, denies the murder hypothesis
The first time that his testimony was broadcast on a media was in the Mexican magazine Proceso, last May. After publication, the Communist Party of Chile, which militated Neruda, filed a lawsuit to clarify the causes of his death. Justice accepted the demand. Judge Mario Carroza, relevant research has led human rights in this country, opened the case for five months. It has two volumes of 500 pages. On the 14th floor of a downtown building in the Chilean capital notes "the existence of elements that can determine that there are degrees of truth in the story of Araya". Today is considering exhuming the body to resolve the case.

We are in November, is a spring Saturday morning in San Antonio, a little big and modern port 109 kilometers west of Santiago. Neruda's driver lives in this coastal town with her mother 80 years. Since the woman fears for the safety of her son after he denounced the murder, the interview is conducted in the home of a family friend fisherman. Allende A painting hangs on a wall. "It is my God," said the hostess. Araya, dressed in a simple and clean, clearly recalls the events: "Not a day not remember what happened for nearly four decades."

Son of a humble peasant marriage had 13 children, became aware that the poet's personal secretary for 26 years: "The Communist Party, where I was active at a young age, I was assigned in November 1972 the mission of caring for Neruda. He had just returned to Chile after giving up the French Embassy for their disease. " The twenties he moved to the house of the poet and his wife in Isla Negra, a picturesque seaside town near Santiago. In this house, now converted into a museum, also lived Neruda's sister and three other employees.

In those months became the confidant of writer: he bought the press and served breakfast, wandered together for markets and antique shops and moved to wherever necessary in a Citroën car.

Araya cancer relates that never prevented him doing normal life Neruda: "It weighed about a hundred kilos. He received his friends and visiting intellectuals and politicians. And he never stopped writing. That would not have been possible to be serious." In fact, the poet ended his memoirs confess that I have lived the September 14, 1973, nine days before his death. "I write these lines my memories fast only three days of unspeakable events that led to the death of my great companion President Allende," he said in his last message. He did it despite the presence of soldiers and sailors who after the coup took her home. Neruda was a friend and one of the ferrous supporters of the Allende government.

According to the lawsuit filed in May by the Chilean Communist Party, initially circulated the story that the poet was serious for security reasons. "To try to protect him," said the letter, "it was revealed that he was more frail than the real."

The then president of Mexico, Luis Echeverria Alvarez, sent his ambassador in Chile on September 16 to offer asylum to the writer and his wife. Neruda accepted the offer. Manuel Araya contends that "it was then organized an operation to remove from Isla Negra to Santiago, where both were about to embark. For safekeeping, Neruda traveled by ambulance on 19. Was accompanied by his wife. I, up close, the was in a Fiat 125. The journey that normally took place in two hours, lasted until six. Soldiers stopped us again and again in search of weapons. was very humiliating. "

Neruda joined that day at the clinic Santa Maria of the Chilean capital. According to Araya, was done to peacefully wait out to Mexico. According to Gonzalo Martinez Corbalá, which was Mexican ambassador to Chile, the departure was scheduled for September 22. "Paul agreed to the point that I got your bags and Matilda, and a package with the manuscript I confess that I have lived, written with green ink used," the former diplomat in a recent interview with the newspaper La Jornada . The scheduled day, however, when he went to the hospital to look for the airport, Neruda asked to postpone the trip to the 24th. No reason was given.

This conversation, held a day before Neruda's death, has become a key event for the plaintiffs. They argue that if he really had been so bad he could not have talked at length with the Mexican. Martinez said Corbalá Neruda was not catatonic: "He spoke quite normally." But unlike what the driver said, and indicated that the writer could not even stand up.

Manuel Araya recalled that on 23 November, the writer asked him and Matilda to travel to Isla Negra. The writer wanted to rescue some personal items intended to be Mexico. "At about four in the afternoon, as we kept things got a phone call. Was Neruda. Asked us to come back immediately to Santiago because he felt so bad. Said that, while he dozed, a doctor had entered his room and had the injection. returned to the clinic immediately. We found feverish, red, swollen. "

The driver reports that, at that moment, one of the doctors came to him to ask him to leave the clinic to buy a drug necessary for the poet. "They said I was not going to find the drug at the center and had to go to the outskirts of the city. Though I was surprised, I followed the instructions. Was at stake Neruda's life," says Araya. Amid shifting, two cars intercepted his vehicle. A group of men took him by force. They threw him to the ground and kicked him. They hit a shot below the knee. "I still have the mark of that wound," says rising pants. He was then taken to the National Stadium, one of the detention and torture centers set up by the dictatorship.

According to what the judge has established in his research Chariot, Araya left the clinic in order of Matilde Urrutia and not the doctor. The goal was to buy cologne for frictions give the poet in his legs, which at 69 years was suffering from gout. The judge, however, confirms that Araya was arrested as recounts, this day and time. Years later, the poet's widow mentioned this episode in his memoir My Life with Pablo. "I approached my driver late and had not appeared (...) He had gone with our car and with it I lost the only person who was with me at all hours of the day."

At 2230 on 23 September that the poet Pablo Neruda died at the clinic Santa Maria. Local media reported that he had been killed by a shock after an injection. Manuel Araya learned of the death of the poet several days later in prison. When he was released, in late October, I weighed 33 kilos.

- Why did it take 38 years to report the alleged murder?

All this time, I played a thousand doors and no one would listen. After the return to democracy, often went to the Communist Party of Chile. But I never heeded. I just want the world to know that Neruda was killed.

Matilde Urrutia, who died in 1985, he referred repeatedly to the cause of the poet's death. In an interview with the Spanish newspaper Pueblo, published on September 19, 1974, said: "The only truth is that the hard impact of the news (the coup) caused him days later that will paralyze the heart. The his cancer was so dominated and did not anticipate this outcome so sudden. reached or not a will, they saw death still far away ".

Rodolfo Reyes, nephew of the poet and the legal representative of the heirs, said that supports research that takes place justice. What secondary communist party chairman, Rep. Guillermo Teillier: "Pinochet crimes committed against people who might do harm to the dictatorship from abroad. Assassinated in 1974 General Carlos Prats in Buenos Aires. In 1976, Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier in Washington . And the poet would have been a great representative of the resistance. " The Neruda Foundation, however, has denied the murder hypothesis: "There is no evidence or proof of any kind to suggest that Pablo Neruda died for reasons other than advanced cancer that afflicted him," said a statement released recently.

Judge Mario Carroza, after months of research, judicially determined in July that former President Salvador Allende committed suicide in La Moneda. Today carries forward the cause of death of Gen. Alberto Bachelet, father of former President of Chile, who died in 1974 after being tortured by their own comrades. Regarding Neruda case, the judge has questioned numerous witnesses, including himself Manuel Araya. In the coming days will testify the then Ambassador of Mexico to Chile and the doctor Sergio Draper, who attended the clinic writer in Santa Maria on the day of his death.

Besides interrogations, Chariot and its teams have tried to reconstruct the medical history of Neruda. They have done in Chile and in France, where he was first treated for cancer. The clinic where he died, however, explained that the writer retains the tab "served the time." Anyway, the judge tries to get as much background as possible so that the Forensic Service determines whether it is necessary to exhume the body. "The remains of the poet are already discounted," said Chariot. "If we also consider the time that has elapsed, it is necessary to establish this procedure very well if we are going to give any explicit evidence".

- Are there any chances that you never know how Neruda died?

-It could happen.

Another case opened by the death of former President Frei

Eduardo Frei Montalva ruled Chile between 1964 and 1970. Though never a supporter of the socialist government of Salvador Allende, Frei in the eighties was one of the leading figures of the opposition to Augusto Pinochet. In January 1982, when he was 71, he entered the Santa Maria clinic to undergo minor digestive surgery. But it came to life on 22 died unexpectedly.
For many years it was believed that he had died from septic shock after surgery. In 2009, however, the Chilean courts ruled otherwise: Frei Montalva was poisoned with thallium and bacteria by the security services of the dictatorship while hospitalized. "There was a move orchestrated to eliminate political enemies covertly. There were no murders or disappearances involved, since the idea was that neither the victims nor their families realize that they were objects of attack," explains the Frei family lawyer, Juan Pablo Hermosilla.
In this case, since there are six accused and the investigation is in the indictment stage. According Hermosilla, the cause could be closed in about six months.
For Neruda, Mario Carroza judge also asked the Santa Maria clinic medical records of the poet. The institution, however, declined to provide information not arguing that the events occurred in 1973. "It seems that many records were destroyed," said the magistrate.
The lawyer Eduardo Contreras, representing the Communist Party, believes that "the refusal raises a strong clinical suspicion of complicity or concealment. Killed in the same place former president Frei.'s All very sleazy".
But is it possible that, given the similarities, there are connections between the two deaths? The lawyer for the Frei says it is necessary to be cautious: "There are certain similarities between the cases, but we must be responsible and not speculate until the truths judicial decree."