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Monday, April 8, 2013

the mysterious death of Pablo Neruda being reinvestigated.....


A couple of decades ago, when you were not having so many channels to view, you had ‘The World This week’ – of Prannoy Roy.  One such episode ended with a quote of Pablo Neruda, which on that day made a stunning impact… over the years have forgotten the quote, but not the name… ‘Pablo Neruda’ – who ?

Here are some of his famous quotes :

v      You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.
v      A child who does not play is not a child, but the man who doesn't play has lost forever the child who lived in him and who he will miss terribly.
v      But from each crime are born bullets that will one day seek out in you where the heart lies.
v      Hate is like a swordfish, working through water invisibly and then you see it coming with blood along its blade, but transparency disarms it.
v      I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride; so I love you because I know no other way.

Pablo Neruda was his penname, legal name of the Chilean poet diplomat and politician Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto.  He was born in 1904 and lived till 1973.  In 1971 Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Neruda was much respected during his living; he wrote in a variety of styles including surrealist poems, historical epics, overtly political manifestos, a prose autobiography, and erotically-charged love poems. It is stated that he often wrote in green ink as it was his personal symbol for desire and hope with his poetry. When Chilean President González Videla outlawed communism in Chile in 1948, a warrant was issued for Neruda's arrest. Neruda escaped into exile through a mountain pass near Maihue Lake into Argentina. Years later, Neruda returned to Chile after his Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

Neruda was hospitalised with cancer at the time of the Chilean coup d'état led by Augusto Pinochet. Three days after being hospitalised, Neruda died of heart failure; even at that time there existed doubts as to whether or not the junta had a hand in his death. Pinochet had denied permission to transform Neruda's funeral into a public event. However, thousands of grieving Chileans disobeyed the curfew and crowded the streets.

Now history is being redig…… it is reported that the remains of the Nobel prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda are to be removed from his grave in Chile as part of an investigation into his death nearly 40 years ago. Reports suggest that a  team of forensic specialists will remove bones from the casket where he lies near his seaside home
This is happening because  two years ago Neruda's bodyguard and driver, Manuel Araya, describing his recollections of the poet's last days, provided a new narrative that the Pinochet regime eliminated Neruda to avoid the possibility that he would become a renowned voice of dissidence.

So the news now is that the  remains of Chile's Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda will be exhumed in a bid to determine the cause of his death  based on the allegation of his assistant. Pablo Neruda's bones were interred in the garden of Isla Negra, his beloved beach house on Chile's Pacific coast. He was buried next to his wife and muse, Matilde Urrutia.

Until the day I die I will not alter my story - Neruda was murdered” - Manuel Araya Pablo Neruda's personal assistant is quoted as telling BBC. Mr Araya's allegations have been taken seriously. Following an investigation, a judge decided there were sufficient grounds to warrant the poet's exhumation. The forensic experts who will examine Neruda's remains say they will search for two things above all. Firstly, they will look for evidence of cancer in the poet's bones. That would suggest the disease was at an advanced stage, and would support - although not prove - the theory that it caused his death. Secondly, they will look for signs of toxins, the discovery of which would lend weight to Mr Araya's claims.  For sure it is not going to be easy and whether useful, only time will tell.  Nearly 40 years have passed since Neruda died and his organs and soft tissue would have long since decomposed.

Neruda died in the Santa Maria hospital in the capital, Santiago; the reports also state that the hospital has no record of the medical bulletin issued at the time of death. It would be easy to dismiss the murder allegations as implausible were it not for Chile's recent history. It is stated that another former Chilean president Eduardo Frei Montalva was treated in the same hospital where Neruda died; he also received routine surgery and never came out alive; after investigations it was ruled that  he was poisoned with thallium and mustard gas. An investigating judge ruled In December 2010, the remains of former Interior Minister Jose Toha were exhumed as part of an investigation into his death in 1974. The military had earlier stated it to be a suicide of which the Investigating judge concluded he was strangled. 

Given the poet's standing as one of the great figures of Latin American literature, those conclusions are likely to resonate around the world.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
8th April 2013.

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