Chilean poet was long thought to have succumbed to cancer but driver claims he was murdered by Pinochet regime.
By Jonathan Franklin
The remains of the Nobel prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda are to be removed from his grave in Chile as part of an investigation into his death nearly 40 years ago.
A team of forensic specialists will remove bones from the casket where he lies near his seaside home on Monday morning.
Neruda, who died suddenly 12 days after the 11 September 1973 military coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power, had suspected prostate cancer and for decades it was assumed that he had succumbed to the disease.
But two years ago when Neruda’s bodyguard and driver, Manuel Araya, began describing his recollections of the poet’s last days, a new narrative was born: the Pinochet regime eliminated Neruda to avoid the possibility that he would become a renowned voice of dissidence.
Neruda was known for his erotic, passionate, romantic poetry, particularly Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair. He was also a leftwing politician, diplomat and close friend of President Salvador Allende, who killed himself rather than surrender to Pinochet in the 1973 coup.
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