Still no certainty about Pablo Neruda's death: Despite four years of investigation, two researchers cannot finally clarify whether the Nobel Prize winner for literature was actually poisoned. The toxic bacterium found in his body cannot be fully deciphered.
According to two of its members, a panel of scientific experts has not been able to clarify with certainty whether Chilean Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda was poisoned shortly after the beginning of the military dictatorship in his home country or not. At the time of Neruda's death in September 1973, the deadly bacterium Clostridium botulinum was in his body, said Hendrik and Debi Poinar of Canada's McMaster University. "But we still don't know why," the two experts added. "All we know is that it shouldn't have been there."
The two scientists are part of a panel of international experts that investigated Neruda's death and presented its report to Chilean judge Paola Plaza on Wednesday. They want to examine the report first.
Hendrik and Debi Poinar explained that they worked on the case for four years. However, they could only have decoded a third of the genome of the Clostridium botulinum bacterium, which came from Neruda's remains. Even without a new exhumation, there is enough material for a full analysis, the researchers said. However, this requires the approval of the court.
Neruda, a friend of Socialist President Salvador Allende, died on September 23, 1973, twelve days after General Augusto Pinochet's military coup, at the age of 69. The official death certificate issued by the junta listed prostate cancer as the cause of death. But there are serious doubts about this.
In 2013, Neruda's chauffeur Manuel Araya reported that the 1971 Nobel Prize winner for literature had died after a mysterious injection on the eve of his planned departure for Mexico. Neruda wanted to go into exile in Mexico to engage in the opposition to Pinochet there.
In 2013, the Chilean judiciary ordered the exhumation of Neruda's remains to determine the cause of death. In 2017, a panel of international experts concluded that Neruda did not die of cancer. However, experts could not determine the real cause of death.