Chilean poet Neruda’s re­mains to un­dergo new tests

The China Post - - ARTS -

Ex­perts will per­form new tests on Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s re­mains to an­a­lyze a mys­te­ri­ous bac­te­ria that has height­ened his fam­ily’s sus­pi­cions he was poi­soned by dic­ta­tor Au­gusto Pinochet’s regime, of­fi­cials said Fri­day.

An in­ter­na­tional team of 13 ex­perts will at­tempt to de­ter­mine the ori­gin of a mas­sive Staphy­lo­coc­cus au­reus in­fec­tion in the No­bel lau­re­ate’s re­mains, which was iden­ti­fied in May by foren­sic sci­en­tists at the Uni­ver­si­dad de Mur­cia in Spain.

Doubts have sur­rounded the cause of Neruda’s 1973 death since his for­mer driver claimed the poet was given a mys­te­ri­ous in­jec­tion in his chest at the San- ti­ago clinic where he was be­ing treated for prostate can­cer.

Neruda, who had been plan­ning to leave for Mexico to lead the op­po­si­tion to Pinochet’s regime, died hours af­ter the in­jec­tion. He was 69.

The cause of death was given as ad­vanced prostate can­cer, but in 2013 of­fi­cials ex­humed his body af­ter a re­quest from the Chilean Com­mu­nist Party, of which Neruda was a mem­ber.

Chile’s foren­sic medicine ser­vice ruled that “no rel­e­vant chem­i­cal agents” could be linked to his death.

But the Span­ish study has rekin­dled his fam­ily’s sus­pi­cions.

Chilean of­fi­cials said a group of Chilean, Span­ish, Amer­i­can, Cana­dian and Dan­ish ex­perts would now an­a­lyze the bac­te­ria’s DNA.

“The main ob­jec­tive of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is to de­ter­mine whether he died of nat­u­ral causes or be­cause of out­side in­ter­ven­tion,” said Ro­drigo Lledo, head of the Chilean in­te­rior min­istry’s hu­man rights pro­gram.

He told a press con­fer­ence that the strain of bac­te­ria found in Neruda’s re­mains does not oc­cur nat­u­rally and may have been “grown in a lab­o­ra­tory.”

Neruda, who won the 1971 No­bel Prize in literature, died on Sept. 23, 1973, 12 days af­ter Pinochet ousted so­cial­ist pres­i­dent Salvador Al­lende in a coup, in­stalling a bru­tal regime that killed some 3,200 op­po­nents over 17 years.

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