Both Allende and Neruda Cases Closed

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

The Chilean government has closed both the cases for the deaths of former Chilean President Salvador Allende and the famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Both had been suspected of having been murdered by the fascist regime of former Chilean General Augusto Pinochet. Many suspected that President Allende did not take his own life but was captured and then murdered by soldiers loyal to Pinochet. Just as equally disturbing was the possible murder of Neruda—believe to have been poisoned so that he could not escape into exile and carry on a campaign of resistance to Pinochet.

The possible attempts to murder Allende and Neruda were not as far-fetched as was believed then and now—former Chilean ambassador to the United States, Orlando Letelier, was murdered on September 20, 1976, when his car exploded due to a bomb having been placed in it. The murder, committed by Chilean DINA agents loyal to General Pinochet, eliminated Letelier because Pinochet feared he would become a dangerous opposition figure in a possible Chilean government in exile. If Pinochet was capable of sending agents all the way to Washington, D.C. to murder the former Chilean ambassador, then Pinochet was quite capable of murdering Allende and Neruda in Chile.

Both Chilean and foreign forensic experts carried out numerous tests and carefully examined the remains of both Allende and Neruda. After much study, the conclusion in the case of Allende was that he had committed suicide. By the examination of Allende’s body, it was concluded that Allende had chosen suicide as an honorable way of denying Pinochet the chance of capturing him and then either publicly executing Allende or having Allende tortured to death. In the case of Neruda, no poisons were found in his body. Neruda had died of natural conditions. The Communist Party of Chile, a major force in the country politics today, does not accept Neruda’s death as natural, and are still calling for further investigation. However, everyone else is satisfied that Neruda died from natural causes due to prostrate cancer. While the deaths of both men reflect the tragedies of the time, the closing of both cases is an important step in Chileans trying to deal with an important and traumatic period in their history.

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