Nobel Prize winning poet Pablo Neruda’s body will be exhumed and autopsied, a judge ruled this week. An investigation of Neruda’s death was opened in 2011, 38 years after he died of what was said to be malnutrition or cancer.
Judge Mario Carroza ordered the investigation after Chile’s Communist Party filed an official request. Carroza is overseeing the cases of hundreds of Chileans who were “disappeared” during Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s notoriously ruthless regime.
Pinochet took over from Salvador Allende in a military coup in 1973. Twelve days later, Neruda, who had been one of many intellectuals who supported Allende, was dead.
Neruda’s former driver and associate, Manuel Araya, has said that Neruda was assassinated. He believes Pinochet operatives injected poison into Neruda’s stomach. Press reports of his death said the 69-year-old had gone into cardiac arrest on Sept. 23, 1973, after a “calming substance” was injected into his stomach, according to the Spanish-language daily La Tercera.
The Pablo Neruda Foundation, which has said it believes the 69-year-old poet died of cancer, told the Associated Press that it supports judge Carroza’s investigation.
Neruda was a poet, political activist and novelist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971. Some of his poems are online at the Poetry Foundation.