Was Pablo Neruda Murdered?

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentarySome time ago I did a piece on the possibility that the famed Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was possibly murdered. Now the Chilean government has opened a full investigation into this. The growing evidence is that indeed he may have been murdered. Before this investigation, the only one who believed that Neruda was indeed murdered was his former assistant and chauffeur Manuel Alaya (and of course Neruda’s wife who is now dead). Assigned by the Communist Party of Chile to take care of and protect the poet, Alaya was with Neruda when Neruda checked into the Santa Maria Clinic in Santiago de Chile. Neruda would never leave there alive. Although Neruda had prostate cancer, it was in its early stages and could have been treated. According to Alaya, the Mexican government was trying to secretly negotiate with the Chilean fascist military coup leaders to have Neruda flown out of Chile. When Neruda was in the clinic, Alaya said that Neruda was given an “injection” that most probably killed him. Four hours after Neruda was given this injection, he was dead. The Chilean military claimed it was from a heart attack, but Alaya claims that Neruda was murdered.

Before I go on, I should explain some details. Pablo Neruda, a leading member of the Communist Party of Chile, was also one of Chile’s most famous poets. At the time he supported Chile’s socialist President Salvador Allende. The Chilean military, made up of extremely right wing senior officers, staged a bloody military coup against Allende. Allende was killed, and Alaya alleged (which seems true now) that Neruda planned to escape abroad. Since the Chilean military coup leaders knew that Neruda would be the most dangerous opposition figure against their rule, it has been rumored that they wanted to murder him. But so far no hard evidence has been produced to show that Neruda was murdered. We only had Alaya’s word that Neruda was indeed murdered.

Enter the case of former Chilean President Eduard Frei, Sr. At first, Frei, a leading member of the Christian Democratic Party, welcomed the military coup on September 11, 1973. However, as the military dictatorship became ever more brutal, Frei turned against it. We know for a fact now that Frei was indeed murdered by the Chilean military. It is the parallels of how he was murdered that raises the question if it happened to Neruda. Frei was taken by the military to the same Santa Maria Clinic in Santiago for a “routine check-up,” and given an injection. Hours later he was dead. Since he was a former president, his body was very well preserved when he was buried. An official autopsy done on Frei a few years ago revealed that indeed he had been poisoned, and his murder had indeed been ordered by the Chilean military at the time. Those involved in his murder were arrested and imprisoned, and these medical personnel were working in the Santa Maria Clinic at the time.

The parallel between what happened with Frei on the one hand and Neruda on the other are just too disturbing. This is why the current Chilean government may order a thorough investigation into revealing the documents of the time on what if any possibility there was that Neruda was murdered. At the same time the investigation may order an autopsy of Neruda’s body to determine if indeed Neruda was murdered. I recommend to my readers to stay tuned to learn what really happened to Pablo Neruda.

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