Did Pinochet kill Pablo Neruda?

Augusto Pinochet’s regime killed hundreds of its political enemies, including one of the most audacious political assassinations ever carried out on U.S. soil, but I was unaware of the theory that the Chilean government had murdered Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda. The country’s courts are reopening the case:  A judge, Mario Carroza, will examine claims ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

Augusto Pinochet's regime killed hundreds of its political enemies, including one of the most audacious political assassinations ever carried out on U.S. soil, but I was unaware of the theory that the Chilean government had murdered Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda. The country's courts are reopening the case

A judge, Mario Carroza, will examine claims that agents injected poison into Neruda's stomach while he was treated in Santiago's Santa Maria clinic for prostate cancer, which until now was blamed for his heart failure.

If confirmed the allegation would rank as one of the dictatorship's vilest murders given Neruda's status as a revered literary great at home and abroad.

Augusto Pinochet’s regime killed hundreds of its political enemies, including one of the most audacious political assassinations ever carried out on U.S. soil, but I was unaware of the theory that the Chilean government had murdered Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda. The country’s courts are reopening the case

A judge, Mario Carroza, will examine claims that agents injected poison into Neruda’s stomach while he was treated in Santiago’s Santa Maria clinic for prostate cancer, which until now was blamed for his heart failure.

If confirmed the allegation would rank as one of the dictatorship’s vilest murders given Neruda’s status as a revered literary great at home and abroad.

Chile’s communist party demanded the investigation after the poet’s former driver, Manuel Araya, said Pinochet henchmen injected the 69-year-old on the day he died, 23 September 1973, 12 days after the coup.

Neruda, a communist and political activist, had just written an article excoriating the military regime and defending his friend Salvador Allende, the socialist president who died during the coup.

For what it’s worth, Neruda’s estate doesn’t believe the murder claim. 

Chile is currently going through a period of intense historical reexamination. The body of former President Salvador Allende has been exhumed in order to determine if he killed himself or was murdered by Pinochet’s forces during the 1973 coup. A newly release military file casts doubt on the suicide theory. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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