Interview with Gonzalo Martinez Corbalá / "La Jornada", Mexico



The complaint of the alleged murder of the poet Pablo Neruda must be investigated, says Ambassador Gonzalo Martinez Corbalá, one of the last people to see her alive to Nobel Literature in the room of the clinic Santa Maria, where he died on September 23, 1973 .
If I were the investigated Chilean, who stresses then served as Mexico's ambassador to Chile to the controversy over the murder charges, filed by Manuel Araya, who was assistant to the poet, and picked up by the international press.

For now, next Tuesday the Communist Party of Chile, through the Deputy Guillermo Teiller, submitted a complaint against the person responsible, forward Gonzalo Martinez Corbalá, writer and founder of this newspaper, who narrates in an interview with La Jornada what happened in the last days of the author of 20 Love Poems and a Song of Despair and Communist Party member.

This talk addresses some data exposed by Araya and further emphasizes an important fact: the death certificate of Pablo Neruda said that on Saturday 22 the poet was catatonic. What the document says is not true, because I was with him. It was the day agreed for his departure from Chile to Mexico.

Back to Chile

The story about Neruda begins September 16, 1973, when the plane carrying the widow of Salvador Allende, Hortensia Bussi, dozens of Chilean exiles and Ambassador Martinez Corbalá lands at the airport in Mexico City.

That same day in the evening, after telling President Luis Echeverría Álvarez what happened in Chile, Gonzalo received a single order of the president: Neruda find and bring to Mexico. It had been five days of the coup against President Allende.

On the way back to Mexico "had to take the plane to arrive after the parade (Independence) because the president was going to go all the cabinet to wait Tencha (Hortensia Bussi) and Allende's family. I looked out the window of the plane to the airport official salon and saw in the distance the president and the entire cabinet formed, dressed in black, in mourning. I came bearded messed with two or three sleepless nights, finally, someone said, 'Ambassador, shave', I think it was one of the pilots and gave me a razor for a shave and settle for no tie reach the scene by arriving in these fascists ".

The President, accompanied by Allende's widow, gave a press conference at which the ambassador arrived a little late to be held by family and friends. After the meeting with the media, the president gave Martinez cites Corbalá for 5 pm Sept. 16 of that. From that time and until 11 pm responded to President Gonzalo all your questions about the coup that brought Pinochet to power.

"At 11 pm interrupted the conversation, and asked: 'In your opinion what is the next step we have to give'. I said that the next step was that I had to return to Chile, because we had that pinned with pins: 300 asylum in the embassy, 200 internal, and anything can happen there, we cut off the water, the light, we are sick somebody and becomes an epidemic. 'I have to go back'. "

Echeverria "took the net and dialed (Jesus) Gutiérrez Castañeda (chief of staff) and said 'we need a plane to leave our ambassador back to Chile. That is a good size so you can come back with some inmates. I warn you when you are ready '. At 10 minutes and was sounded Castañeda Gutiérrez network. President tells me that the plane left at one in the morning of the presidential hangar. "

He hung up and then said the one command: "Look you to Neruda in Santiago, we know that you are sick, it's wrong, offer, tell him to come and offer him as a distinguished guest invited Mexico's president and the people of Mexico, or if you prefer asylee come as welcome, to the terms of the treaty of asylum protection it deserves. He decides. "

On the plane that took him to Chile again only he was a passenger and the entire crew of another plane, carrying parts for a Mexican unit was not allowed to land in Chile and had to do in Jujuy, Argentina. We arrived in Santiago on Monday 17th, after curfew, ie after 7 pm. It was crazy after that time to travel from the airport to the city. That night we slept on the plane.

The next day sent Martinez Pascual Duarte cultural attaché to find Pablo Neruda to his home in Isla Negra. "He came back and told me he was not in Isla Negra. 'Neruda in Santiago, in the clinic Santa Maria'. I went to see him immediately. "

Regular in Isla Negra

Depending on the version of Araya, the ambassador had arranged to transfer to the clinic Neruda, who at the time was the best he had. "Araya says that I was the one who prepared the room in the clinic Santa Maria. I did not get it. There I found, that I explained what was going. He had brought a very fluid relationship with him and we often Matilde had invited me and my wife to lunch at Isla Negra. Lunch in Paul's bedroom because he could not stop, could not walk, and we had seen several times, told me I had the idea of making a city on the site of Isla Negra, where he had spent everything he had won , that must have been shortly.

I had the idea of making a city trip. Compared it to the sun city Campanella, intellectuals, artists, writers, thinkers. In that city was going to call Cantalao, that does not mean anything, it was a name he had invented euphonious Paul. Cantalao, just had the same idea as in Mexico Dr. Atl, who wanted to make a city but Jiquilpan Valley, between Lake Chapala and the state of Michoacán. A place so heavenly, but he was going to call Ollincatl, Ollin is the first sign that expressed an idea that appears in the codex Bourbon, in three very beautiful graphic versions. Here in the family used it as a coat of arms.

The friendship with Neruda began in 1972, when Don Gonzalo arrived as ambassador to Chile. "We had made friends and we met frequently. When I sent the president tried to execute the order. Paul accepted to the point that I got your bags and Matilda (Urrutia, Neruda's wife) and a package with the manuscript I confess that I have lived, written with green ink used by Paul. "

Neruda, Corbalá Martinez recalls, had accepted the option of coming as a guest of honor of the president and the people of Mexico. "I raised it to the Board, to the Chilean Foreign Ministry de facto, accepted it without objection, gave his passport to the embassy and we gave the visa. We were ready. "

Departure delayed

- When do we leave Don Pablo, I asked

'Well, we're on Saturday 22, said. Matilde and agreed with him.

So in the following days was devoted to upload pictures Carrillo Gil Collection, rescued the National Museum of Fine Arts in Santiago. Castaneda had lectured me for me not to entertain any more than necessary, because that plane, largest, had pulled out of an international airline and that cost a lot of money, but never mind.

On Saturday 22, cheerful and whistling, went to pick the author of Residence on Earth to the clinic Santa Maria.

"I think it was 11 o'clock. I see Don Paul, who was a man like all men at that level who have lived all their lives between artistic creation and life was very different from ours. I said, 'You don Pablo, let's go. I'm ready. Everything is ready '. We had an ambulance to take him to the clinic to airports and said simply: "Ambassador, I want to go now '.

"'Chin' I said. I felt that I opened the floor. Now the tables inside the plane, and Castañeda above me, but I would not put to argue with Pablo Neruda and less in the hospital. I said 'good gift when Paul wants us to go? He said, 'We're going on Monday ambassador, categorically, we go on Monday. "

The Mexican official spoke with Matilde, was left with bags of Nobel and his wife as well as the manuscripts to (she could return to the hands of the poet's wife five years later).

On Saturday and Sunday was dedicated to saying goodbye to some friends, including Clodomiro Almeyda's wife, Irma, and Hugo Miranda, both collaborators of President Allende, imprisoned on Dawson Island.

The Sunday night got a call from Mexico, was the deputy foreign minister, José Gallástegui, who cries, because communication was very bad, he said: "Hey Gonzalo, here in Mexico is a rumor that Pablo Neruda died. I was truly shocked.

'Here I am, I have not moved and I know nothing. Right now I'm going to the clinic Santa Maria and then I talk.

Notwithstanding the fact that it was dark, with a curfew over the hospital due out covered with a pass obtained days before allowing him to move after the touch. "When I arrived he was already dead. Then with Matilde and we agreed on what could help her. The next day, Monday, I got to the Chascona early. The Chascona was Neruda's house in Santiago. Chascona in Chile is a woman who cuts hair shortie.

I got exactly the three representatives of the Armed Forces who were to offer condolences Matilde, who of course did not receive them. I went immediately and officers stayed outside with the span of nostrils.

The Chascona was a disaster, Martinez recalls Corbalá. The military had assaulted the place and the scene was chaotic: Were all the pictures on the walls torn with bayonets. Neruda collected everything, very organized and classified. In Chascona had clocks, with rifle butts on the floor shattered and pulled the gears and parts. The windows had been broken so the floor was covered with glass. There was a ditch: the overflowed, and diverted it posed as among the living. That was the atmosphere in La Chascona. The only thing was tore a portrait of Matilda who had made Siqueiros, who was at the head of his bedroom, where the coffin was Neruda.

Hence, due to the pantheon came in two or three cars. "I was in the Matilda. On the sides of the avenue was the cemetery had two rows of soldiers on each side, with large shields to fend surely we Matilde and ambassadors. When the procession started, we were the only companions but as was passing people left their homes and were incorporated, grew larger. Shouted Pablo Neruda!, Answered all Presente! Salvador Allende! This!

"Matilda got out and us along with it, and went to the graveyard. In the story that makes this process Mr. Araya is a picture where you see the coffin and the people next door. Back we Matilde and me. "

- Is there support for thinking that Neruda was murdered?

-Chile called me on Monday or Tuesday. I spoke Eduardo Contreras Mello (who filed the first complaint against Pinochet and human rights lawyer) and said Ambassador Hey there this and we need to hear from you what had happened, because the only two people living in this world are you and Araya. We investigate to Araya, if not a madman or a drunkard, and is neither mad nor drunk.

A Manuel Araya, "I did not know him, never saw him, probably saw him doing some task or service at home or Isla Negra or Chascona but I remember someone who was this person, no.

"It is the act of Neruda's death. Contreras told me that according to the document, Neruda, on Saturday 22 and was in a catatonic state. All I can say is that this is not true because I was with him and he said he did not want to go. He spoke normally and I spent some time with him. He was a very sensitive, very special in their own way of being. He liked to play with stuffed toys that were in his bed, very talkative, very special but very far from that Saturday was like 22 death certificate says catatonic.

Apparently this group headed by Eduardo Contreras is already on the case, and are investigating and they will not stop, especially if the first did research about Araya told that a man is not dissipated, or drunk or crazy.

- How bad was Neruda that Saturday?

-I saw him so bad, as the first day I saw him. Like the other day. I saw no harm in the Santa Maria clinic that what was in his house in Isla Negra, when we went the first time to see, when we told him about Cantalao.

- Should be investigated then?

-Look, I think so. I should not give an opinion of 'yes or no investigation'. But if I were Chilean would investigate.

The university professor Dario Salinas offers more details about the complaint to be presented on Tuesday. The complainant is Eduardo Contreras and formally present the Communist deputy Guillermo Teiller said Chilean political scientist at La Jornada.

The action stems from the statement made by the assistant Pablo Neruda, Manuel Araya, who is a man committed, not only in the sense of loyalty to Paul, but also politically. Pablo Neruda assistant would not have a person with a different horizon of Araya.

With the lawsuit "is just to show what has always said Gonzalo Martinez Corbalá: who had contact with Pablo Neruda the day before his death and that Neruda was not dying. He held a conversation with him quite smooth, more so when it came to the terms of the conversation I was able to travel to Mexico. This is documented in several testimonies, never reached legally and will now.

Pablo Neruda, and Allende, deserves a full historical truth. A real truth, pun intended. On Tuesday, the charge is filed and that opens the process to formally establish the cause of death of Neruda.