Chilean poet Neruda's body exhumed in murder probe
By Rodrigo Garrido
ISLA NEGRA, Chile (Reuters) - The body of Chilean Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda, dead nearly four decades, was exhumed on Monday after his former driver said the poet was poisoned under Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship.
Neruda, famed for his passionate love poems and staunch communist views, is presumed to have died from prostate cancer on September 23, 1973.
But Manuel Araya, who was Neruda's chauffer during the ailing writer's last few months, says agents of the dictatorship took advantage of his illness to inject poison into his stomach while he was bedridden at the Santa Maria clinic in Santiago.
"We're hoping for a positive result because Neruda was assassinated. Pinochet made an error when he ordered Neruda be killed," said Araya. Results are expected in coming months.
Neruda was a supporter of socialist President Salvador Allende, who was toppled in a military coup on September 11, 1973, nearly two weeks before the poet's death at age 69. Around 3,000 people are thought to have been killed by the brutal 17-year-long dictatorship that ensued.
Neruda was buried in his coastal home of Isla Negra beside his third wife, Matilde Urrutia.
His remains will be brought to Santiago for analysis. Some samples could be sent to laboratories abroad.
Ricardo Eliecer Neftali Reyes Basoalto, better known by his pen name Pablo Neruda, was a larger-than-life fixture in Chile's literary and political scene. Continued...