Interview with Jaime Maturana / "Clarin", Chile

By Mario Casasus



Mexico City. - In an exclusive interview with Jaime Clarí Maturana (1949), talks about his friendship with Pablo Neruda, in 1969 began work on The Chascona and Isla Negra, lived there for nearly two years until the poet moved to Paris, to represent diplomatically Popular Unity government, not again speak, to Neruda was murdered in the clinic Santa Maria and Don Jaime was arrested along with his family in Villa Grimaldi, his two brothers are still missing-, during sessions of torture only thing the cops asked was: who was visiting Pablo Neruda?

Maturana Jaime went walking with Neruda to collect stones and shells, accompanied him to buy old pallets Valparaiso scented red wine, or to collect the color "mustard-orange" in a graveyard of ships, also made the repair of the world map, revolving table with canal water, the body with the melody of the Internationale, finally, when discovered Neruda Foundation attempted to co-opt forgotten character, however, has Don Jaime: "Then I realized that was a partner Juan Agustín Figueroa Ricardo Claro, owner of the South American Steamship boats where several comrades tortured, since I did not know anything about the Neruda Foundation, the times I travel to Chile and I look for Isla Negra ".

MC. - When he met the poet Pablo Neruda?, Do you work immediately invited?
JM. - In 1969, we were in the offices of the Communist Party doing sketches to paint a mural in the Mapocho River along Ramona Parra Brigade, and just then came Don Pablo asking "who is the son of Hernán Maturana?, because your father told me that you paint and paint the house need Pio Nono "made an appointment to see the budget and said:" When can you start? ", -" now, "replied . I bought the materials and left other jobs to fix the house, to spend six months I went to Isla Negra, I lived very closely with Don Pablo, I stayed over at his house in Isla Negra.

MC. - How was Neruda in personal and career?
JM. - He was a very kind and friendly, with all the people who worked with him at lunchtime called all-with a rattle-inviting us to eat, every day shared the table with us and visits arriving from Santiago, journalists, writers, painters, sculptors, photographers and political-Don Pablo was never elitist, once everyone had sat down for lunch we had, never had no qualms and we participated in the conversation, there I met Salvador Allende, Luis Corvalan, Volodia Teitelboim, Homer Maple, Eduardo Frei Montalva, I knew who came to his home, who were his best friends.

MC. - How to chose the colors Neruda Isla Negra and La Chascona?
JM. - It was very special with the colors, I do not know if things were dreaming or had seen in Chile was hard to find colors, you had to make or invent, once asked me to paint the house blue "candle package" -saw that color on the wrapper of 4 candles, was a pale blue-colonial, in Isla Negra wanted the house paint color "dove"-between gray-tugging plumb, so I went to the mountain to look for the feather of a dove, I made six color swatches and Don Pablo chose the color that resembled the feather dove, he brought his eyes on each color. For example for window and doors, wanted a color between orange and mustard, I had seen on a boat junkyard port of San Antonio, Don Pablo took me to scratch with a spatula the color of the abandoned boat and with that sample was color. Since when one was coming to Isla Negra, several kilometers before-house distinguished by their colors Pablo.

MC. - Don Jaime, Towards carpentry repairs on the house and the objects within Isla Negra?
JM. - All kinds, repairing the figureheads, the huge wooden world map I painted some countries that were deleted, Don Pablo showed me the maps in his books and said, "you who are curious do the sepia color Pinturita" He wrote in his library and I worked beside him, once I came to see the manuscripts pulling crumpled to the floor, I gave myself the task of flattening and asked: "Hey Don Pablo, do you need those papers, or I give them away? ", always said," if you take them ", I kept her writing in green ink, I took them to my house, but when searched after the coup, the military stole books I gave Don Pablo and drafts. All the time I lived in Isla Negra learned to love Don Pablo, I witnessed his kindness, when people came to ask him something he was very generous.

MC. - After the library, what was the most special place Neruda's house?
JM. - Between the library and the dining room was the bar, and one day I said, "let's go with Don Pedro to Valparaiso", this man had a canteen for many years, sold a chicha very good (laughs), when we the owner of the bar greeted Don Pablo, and he asked him to sell the old platform of the bar, the bartender was opposed because it was dirty, but Don Pablo insisted change the old platform for a new timber, and took measures three days returned to Valparaiso with the new platform for change and brought on stage smelly, Don Paul said, "are you smelling red wine and chicha?" asked me brushed and install it to your canteen, on the half hour throughout the bar smelled Isla Negra wine, Don Paul said: "That's the smell I was looking for, we will open a bottle of French wine to celebrate", were details that other workers did not understand.

MC. - What other unique works made with Neruda?
JM. - We went for a walk to the beach and all that it seemed strange asked me to throw it into a bag, agate stones, shells, even in a piece of wood, Mr. Paul said, "the suit you just wash Tues let's bring it home ", I did not see any meaning to stick to the four days it was already dry, Don Pablo barnizara asked me half, and placed two meters from the fireplace, the piece of Wood looked very nice there. It also had several bags of glass bottles-from around the world, Don Paul said: "Jaime you who are curious, what can we do with the empty bottles, I want the light through the bottles," I suggested putting together a screen two sheets to separate the fireplace with the door, I started to work on the screen got two wooden racks, lead smelter, it was very hard, as I lifted the screen Neruda looked and asked, "who else helped you? ", I explained that I did by myself and place it at the entrance of the sun and the bottles were of all colors: blue, green, pink and transparent.

MC. - Neruda was just time to pay for the craftsmanship?
JM. - I took out a budget of what made the week: many crowns (coins of the time) per square meter painting, for example: 2,000 shields + details = 2.500, arriving Neruda week paid its masons and carpenters, I presented the list of my work, and gave me the revised 3.500-mil shields over what I asked, he said it was just what my work and take it to Valparaiso in car, I had some estimate.

MC. - Neruda had an obsession with restoring things at home?
JM. - Yes, in Santiago's house was a table on a platform installed in the water channel, with the force of the water was turning the platform, when I was not working because the mechanism was stuck, disarmed the platform and looked refractions to repair the bearing shaft when Don Paul learned that his table was spinning was happy that day took me to the room of Cachurecos to show a body that was no longer playing melodies, said: "If you are curious cast it to walk and discover what melody is, if you hit in the melody will give 3.000 shields "to know what I was bitten by the organ music had decomposed, bought wooden gears, install them in the cylinder and when I turned to the Listen crank International.

MC. - When was the last time you spoke with Neruda?
JM. - In 1970, before he went to France as ambassador, when he returned in November 1972 and did not see it, because I had other political activities, my dad did go to Isla Negra in 1973 and asked Pablo Me.

MC. - Don Manuel Araya in Proceso magazine reported: "Neruda was killed by a shot in the clinic Santa Maria", what do you think Jaime's statements to the personal assistant of Neruda?
JM. - I do not doubt that the care was poor at the clinic Santa Maria, were discriminated against for being a communist, if the rumor is that he probably killed themselves, because in the same clinic poisoned Eduardo Frei Montalva ( 1982), so Neruda could suffer the same fate as former President Frei, would be interesting to investigate the murder of Don Pablo, the Court should clarify that crime.

MC. - The three Neruda closest associates were arrested by the dictatorship: Homer Arce (died in 1977 as a result of a beating), Manuel Araya (prisoner at the National Stadium) and you (prisoner in Villa Grimaldi), what attributed the brutality of the military regime?
JM. - I stopped to get all possible information, all I ask, "who frequently visit Neruda's house?", I said nothing, I argued that I was a worker either, I met with my work remodeling and painting of the house, insisted that he had no personal contact with Neruda did not know who entered the house, much less could go around asking what you are?, I repeated so many times that eventually convinced the military.

MC. - Since what year exile living in Mexico?
JM. - Since 1975, the camp went to the airport, did not let me go to my house for clothes or for documents, I came with nothing, with the pass and the government of Mexico visa.

MC. - Why never returned to Santiago?
JM. - For the first few years I could not return to Chile because dictatorship forbade the exiles who were imprisoned in concentration camps until 1990 went to Chile, but after 15 days and missed my life in Mexico, because I found my country very different, with empty people were not as in our time that we fought for ideals. Back to what, my daughter was born in Mexico, also my grandchildren, I have good friends Chileans and Mexicans in Mexico, Tabasco, Morelia and Cuernavaca.

MC. - Finally, during a visit sporadically returned? Neruda's houses, and what you think of the Neruda Foundation and its ties with the worst of Pinochet?
JM. - The second time I went to Chile I contacted Sister Aida Figueroa-life president of the Neruda Foundation, she was interested in my story to make a tour of the house and see what was missing, because I had no idea of the inventory of things and their original location, but when I returned to Mexico and talked with exiled Chileans understood that Juan Agustín Figueroa was partner Ricardo Claro, owner of the South American Steamship boats where several comrades tortured, since I did not know nothing Neruda Foundation, the times I travel to Chile and I look at Isla Negra, the Chilean consul Sergio Verdugo said, "did well Maturana, these mussels are freeloaders and scoundrels," I never wanted to see Aida Figueroa, with people and not to the corner.