Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet's body exhumed in murder query

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY,  |  Updated April 8, 2013 at 2:42 PM
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The body of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was exhumed Monday after testimony from his chauffeur cast doubt on prostate cancer as his real cause of death just 12 days after the 1973 military coup.

Judge Maria Carroza ordered the exhumation in February after a years-long investigation in which Neruda's chauffeur, Manuel Araya, said he has been faking his illness in an attempt to escape the country.

Araya said Neruda died Sept. 23, 1973, shortly after sending Araya a note saying: "Went to a doctor, gave me an injection in the stomach and I have a high fever."

Among documents released by Wikileaks Monday were State Department memos fearing for Neruda's safety.

After his death, a State Department staffer sent a counterpart in Chile the entire text of a Newsweek article detailing the "Slaughterhouse in Santiago," which elaborated on the attempt to systematically destroy Neruda's reputation and work in the days after the revolution:

Pablo Neruda, Chile's Nobel Prize winning poet, was dead of cancer, and even as his body was lowered into its grave, his countrymen set about trying to murder his words. Books of all kinds, not only Neruda's but those by Mao and Marx and Marcuse, were seized by the tens of thousands from homes, bookstores and libraries and then fed to the bonfires in the streets of Santiago. And the military junta that has ruled Chile for three weeks didn't stop there. Chilean universities, once proud bastions of independence, were purged of suspected leftists, and ordinary people learned to dread the midnight knock on the door. All that was bad enough, but Newsweek correspondent John Barnes discovered last week that the reign of terror has already gone much further than most people thought.

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