Interview with David Schidlowsky / "Deutsche Welle", Germany



Death of Pablo Neruda: Cancer or murder?
The official version of the death of Chilean poet is in doubt. His principal biographer and plaintiff attorney discussed the judicial investigation that seeks to clarify whether the Nobel prize was killed.
Pablo Neruda
12 days after the military coup in Chile, on Sunday September 23, 1973, the poet Pablo Neruda died at the Santa Maria Clinic in Santiago. Everything was planned for the next day traveled to Mexico, where he would be received as a guest by the president of that country. The plane was waiting at the airport to move soon.
However, this trip would turn Neruda in the second most important figure in the resistance to the dictatorship, after the widow of President Allende, was never realized. The poet died that Sunday and the official version unanimously sustained until recently was that the Nobel Prize for Literature ceased to exist because of advanced prostate cancer who had been suffering for some years.
However, recent statements by the poet's driver, Manuel Araya, a Mexican publication, have generated controversy. Araya postulates that Neruda had died from a shot that was placed at the hospital that Sunday.

"There are numerous witnesses and medical reports attesting that Pablo Neruda was not suffering from cancer cachexia product, as the death certificate of the clinic," the Communist Party lawyer Eduardo Contreras, who filed a complaint for this case . The lawyer explained that cachexia is an advanced general disrepair and sustained over time. However, photos and testimonies, including the Mexican ambassador, demonstrate that in those days the poet talked and walked, and would not have been serious or dying.
Contreras adds that in the Chilean press, the day after the death, it was reported that Neruda had suffered a heart attack after he put an injection to calm the pain. One of the doctors who examined him said that actually put a reliever. "The big question is how much. And we have no certainty of what was injected, "says Contreras.

38 years after

Today the case is in the hands of Judge Mario Chariot, the same as recently investigated the death of former President Salvador Allende. The judge is conducting various inquiries and quoting witnesses testify. At the request of the medical records of Neruda, the clinic said he does not own this document. "For me it is very shocking and very strange-counsel says Contreras-with no tab is an international figure as Neruda. And moreover, this is the same clinic where later assassinated former President Eduardo Frei. "

"I have no doubt that Neruda was killed. About all I have doubt is whether I will be able to demonstrate, "says Contreras. The attorney believes the judge may order the exhumation of the body in the coming weeks to be subjected to forensic experts, as he has requested.
However, there is uncertainty about the possibility of reaching conclusive reports. The remains of the poet were buried in Santiago and then were taken to his home in Isla Negra, facing the sea. Forensic consulted by the complainants have diverse opinions. Although current technology would find the presence of certain substances inoculated, the effect of the humidity of the coast could hinder the findings. So far, the Neruda Foundation has opposed the investigation since the remains of the poet being exhumed.
The last day

Recently there have been new evidence, including a witness who says that the poet's widow, Matilde Urrutia, said that he was killed. Why did not she and Manuel Araya spoke before? Contreras's lawyer argues that the climate of repression silenced any version other than the official: "On the one hand the fear of the dictatorship created this idea became myth. In a time when everyone was running for his life, and went unclaimed for granted anymore. "
While Neruda was hospitalized, and Matilde Urrutia Araya have traveled to Isla Negra to find some belongings that the poet commissioned for the trip. According to Araya, Neruda called for an urgent return, saying that he had injected something against their will. The driver tells you to get agitated and had found a red spot on the abdomen.

Araya had been sent by a doctor to get a prescription and street was stopped by a patrol car and taken to the National Stadium, a place of detention for two months.
"Manuel was a peasant-boy Eduardo Contreras added. He saw several leaders murdered and says he tried to talk, but not listen. Is installed in the collective consciousness of Chile which Neruda died of cancer. "
In search of truth

In Berlin, the greater poet's biographer, David Schidlowsky, author of "The Furies and penalties: Pablo Neruda and his time", considered to be very valuable to do an investigation of this type to clarify the causes of death and clear all doubts, before the emergence of this new information.
The teacher and student in literature indicates that in their inquiries about Neruda found no data on a possible homicide. Indeed the author of 20 love poems was suffering complications from cancer that could explain his death at 69 years old, but new information published research merit.
"I think the figure is as international Neruda to clarify how he died is not going to change its figure of great poet, with its ups and downs like any human being-indica Schidlowsky-but for India it is very important to know the truth, for confrontation than it was the dictatorship. Because if they show that the second Nobel laureate who had Chile was killed ... that's outrageous and unacceptable. "

Although one can not prove the actions of others in the death of Neruda, the poet researchers and nearby have always maintained that the military coup and the arrival of Augusto Pinochet to power was a major setback for the mood of the poet, would have accelerated the dying process.
"Now that there is new information and depending on the results of the investigation, it is hoped that those responsible, if he was killed," concludes David Schidlowsky.

Author: Victoria Dannemann
Editor: Claudia Herrera