Was Neruda Poisoned? Poetry News 15th February

Today on My Poetic Side, we look at the emerging news stories which indicate that the poet Pablo Neruda was killed as a result of poison.

Nephew Claims Pablo Neruda was Poisoned

A relative of Pablo Neruda the late Chilean poet and Nobel Prize winner, claims that forensic experts have determined that the cause of the poet’s death nearly 50 years ago was poisoning.

Rodolfo Reyes, one of the poet’s nephews, made the revelation which is the latest twist in the great debates that surround the poet. The official position in Chile has always been that Neruda’s death was the result of complications caused by prostate cancer, however, his driver has been stating for decades that he believes he was poisoned.

Neruda poisoned?

Over the years, forensic experts from all over the world have rejected the original official cause of death, that Neruda died of cachexia which is a wasting and weakening of the brain as a result of cancer or another chronic illness. However, they have never definitively been able to say what they felt the cause of his death might have been.  The release of the findings of the group looking into Neruda’s death has already been delayed twice in the last year, the first time due to one of the experts having internet issues and the second time as a result of the judge feeling the panel had not reached a definitive conclusion.

The tests which are being referred to by Reyes have been carried out at specialist forensic labs in both Canada and Denmark, and the results indicate that there was a considerable amount of Clostridium botulinum, a powerful toxin that is not compatible with human life, in the samples that tested. The toxin causes paralysis to the nervous system, which leads to death.

The experts wrote a forensic report in 2017 in which they also stated that both a molar and the bones of the late poet showed indications of the toxin. These latest tests now show that the toxin was administered to Neruda whilst he was still alive.

The release of the report will happen almost 50 years after the poet’s death and is 12 years after the date on which a judicial enquiry into the possibility of a poisoning began.

Aged 69, the poet was suffering from prostate cancer and was hospitalised during the aftermath of the coup in 1973, which saw the president overthrown and General Augusto Pinochet come to power. Neruda’s driver has always maintained that the poet was poisoned with an injection to the stomach, something he claims to have been told by a nurse at the time.

In 2013 the body of Pablo Neruda was exhumed for testing to determine the cause of his death however, no signs of poison or toxin were found at the time. More investigations were requested, which lead to a statement in 2015 by the government that it was “highly probable that a third party” was responsible for the death but not going as far as suggest the true cause.

Neruda was a close friend of the president overthrown in the coup and was planning to go into exile, where his voice would have been a strong one against Pinochet.


  • Ok Waleed

    Rest In Peace

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