New research into the remains of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda has confirmed that poisoning was the cause of his death in 1973, the poet-diplomat’s nephew Rodolfo Reyes has said.
Following the court-approved exhumation of the body, international experts were called in to examine the remains of the Nobel laureate. According to Reyes, the results of the study confirmed he died not from cancer, as stated in official documents, but from poisoning.
Reyes has detailed that the final report outlined traces of the botulism agent had been found in the poet’s remains. Moreover, experts at McMaster University in Canada and the University of Copenhagen determined the bacteria had entered his body before death, thus confirming the idea of poisoning.
“We now know that there was no reason for the clostridium botulinum to have been there in his bones,” Reyes told Spanish media. “What does that mean? It means Neruda was murdered through the intervention of state agents in 1973.”
In Chile, Neruda is known not only as a poet but also as a diplomat and public figure. The Chilean Communist Party nominated him for president in 1970, although he later withdrew his candidacy in favour of socialist Chilean President Salvador Allende, who would later go on to be overthrown by General Augusto Pinochet in a US-backed coup.
Neruda died on 23 September 1973, 12 days after the coup d’état that toppled the Allende government. He died at the Santa Maria Hospital in Santiago. Speculation on Neruda’s cause of death has remained a hot talking point for decades, with his body having been first exhumed under court order in 2017.