"Neruda was a danger to Pinochet," says the poet's former driver

Chilean Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda “He was a danger to Pinochet” and that is why the regime ordered his poisoning, he said at a press conference, Manuel Arayadriver of the poet and one of the first people to question the official version that indicated advanced prostate cancer as the cause of death.

The statements by the driver and Neruda’s right-hand man come one day after international experts handed over to the judge in the case a pivotal report about the bacteria found in 2017 in the remains of the poet and that, according to the writer’s nephew Rodolfo Reyes to the EFE agency, is conclusive proof that he was poisoned.

The author of Twenty love poems and a song of despair He died on September 23, 1973 at the Santa María Clinic in Santiago, 12 days after the coup that overthrew his friend and president. Salvador Allende and one day before going into exile in Mexico.

Araya, one of the last people to see the poet alive, explained that Neruda was in “good health” but that he decided to enter the clinic to protect himself from the regime, which had surrounded his house in Isla Negra, a town on the Chilean coast 110 kilometers from Santiago. “Neruda was lucid, happy because he was going to Mexico to ask the world for help,” he stressed.

Araya has always maintained that taking advantage of his absence and that of matile urrutiaNeruda’s wife, a doctor entered the room and gave the poet an injection in the belly.

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“When I arrive from Isla Negra, he tells me: ‘Manuel, I’m burning inside.’ I went up to him and saw a Red stainlike when you get a puncture ”, recalled the driver.

Araya’s testimony was the basis of the denunciation of the Communist Party – in which Neruda had been a member since he was young – that gave rise to the current investigation.

The poet’s nephew, Rodolfo Reyes, who had access to the expert documents as a plaintiff in the case, leaked to EFE on Monday that forensics concluded that the “clostridium botulinum” found in the writer’s remains “was in his body at the time of death” and that the corpse was not later contaminated when it was buried.

For the family, this irrefutably demonstrates the poisoning, although the magistrate in the case, Paola Plazaaffirmed on Wednesday that the expert report is an “important” evidencebut that “it is the joint analysis of the evidence collected that leads the court to a resolution.”

The bacterium, responsible for botulism, was found in 2017 in a Neruda tooth by another panel of experts, who dismissed the version of the dictatorship and rejected that the cause of death was “cachexia” (extreme weakness) produced by the prostate cancer advanced disease that had afflicted him since 1969.

The unknown remains how or who introduced the botulinum bacterium, which acts at the neuromuscular level and is also often found in poorly preserved canned foods, into his body.


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