Chileans have long suspected that poet Pablo Neruda’s death in 1973, which the government at the time said was due to prostate cancer, was actually a murder. Now the current Chilean government has said that might be true.
The Interior Ministry released a statement saying it is possible that Neruda may have been killed. However, it did not go so far as to say that it had been proven as the only possibility, warning that the case was still under investigation and no conclusions had been drawn yet.
Neruda was a world-renowned writer, famous for his love poems. He was also a communist and a friend of Salvador Allende, Chile’s socialist president who was removed in the coup led by General August Pinochet. Allende committed suicide in the presidential palace rather than surrender.
Neruda died just 12 days after the coup. He had planned to flee the country and speak against the new regime from exile, but he died the day before he was supposed to leave. He was 69.
The new government statement came as a response to a report published by a local newspaper which unearthed a government document which read:
The poet was injected with a pain killer that produced the cardiac arrest that would cause his death.
The report said the poet’s medical treatment was highly irregular, but did not state why this was the case.
He was given the injection in his abdomen rather than intravenously, which is quite unusual. It was not known who had given him this injection or what was in it.
Neruda’s health rapidly worsened after this injection and he died just six and a half hours after the injection was administered. The document was part of a brief sent by the ministry’s human rights program to the judge leading the investigation into Neruda’s death.