Neruda's body to be exhumed

Feb. 10, 2013 at 10:28 AM
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SANTIAGO, Chile, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- A Chilean judge ordered the exhumation of Pablo Neruda, who allegedly died of prostate cancer, after the poet's former chauffeur said he was not sick.

Officials had declared Neruda died just 12 days after the 1973 military coup in Chile due to advanced prostate cancer. His former chauffeur and longtime friend, Manuel Araya, said the poet was not sick, but he was faking it in order to get permission to leave the country.

Judge Maria Carroza ordered the exhumation to begin in March after a lengthy investigation bolstered by Araya's testimony, The Santiago (Chile) Times reported Saturday.

Araya said he received a note from Neruda the day before the poet was hospitalized telling him his plans to fake an illness.

"Went to a doctor, gave me an injection in the stomach and I have a high fever," the note read.

Araya said he was arrested and imprisoned shortly thereafter and he didn't find out about Neruda's death until days after when he was released, the Times reported.

"Nerdua was assassinated," Araya said in a 2011 interview.

Dr. Guillermo Merino, a member of the medical team treating Neruda at the time, said the poet did have a tumor, but it was "benign, not malignant."

Neruda was a former senator for the Community party and had expressed his disgust over the military coup in the final pages of his memoir.

"I am writing these quick lines for my memoirs only three days after the unspeakable events took my great comrade, Salvador Allende, to his death," Neruda wrote about the former Socialist president overthrown by Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

Neruda's body is buried near his Isla Negra home, the Times reported.

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