Pablo Neruda: Experts to Investigate Poet’s Death

Pablo Neruda

A team of genomics experts and forensic specialists has decided to solve the mystery of the death of Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda.

Canada’s McMaster University’s Ancient DNA Centre and the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Forensic Medicine will carry out the lab tests over Neruda’s bones and teeth.

The lab test will determine the identifying pathogenic bacteria, which could have killed Neruda.

To get the genomic data, the research will focus on the method to “extract, purify and enrich fragments of the bacterial DNA,”. The data will help figure out the core cause of Neruda’s death.

“The search for the truth of the death of the poet, Pablo Neruda, is a forensic challenge. We hope that the work of the Chilean Human Rights Program and the scientists will contribute to the reconciliation between the various groups in Chile,” said forensic geneticist Niels Morling, director of the Department of Forensic Medicine at the University of Copenhagen, in a report by CBC.

In 2013, his remains were dug out from the graves for lab tests. But it revealed nothing as to any sign of drugs that might have killed him.

But last year, Chile’s government said that the poet might have been killed after the coup, by “a third party”.

Neruda was a well-known poet in Chile. Right-wing opponents criticised him for having Communist ties. He lived in exile for a time. He died after the 1973 coup when Gen. Augusto Pinochet came to power.  The coup also ended the life of his friend, President Salvador Allende. He was believed to be traumatised by his friend’s death, according to a report by MPR News.

Following his bad health due to prostate cancer, he was taken to Santa Maria clinic in Santiago, where he was declared dead.  He officially died on Sept. 23, 1971 at the age of 69 years.

After the Chile returned to democracy in 1990, it was speculated that the dictatorship of Augusto could be responsible behind his death.


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