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News > Chile

Chile: Crucial Investigation Into Death of Poet Pablo Neruda

  • Salvador Allende (left), Pablo Neruda (left)

    Salvador Allende (left), Pablo Neruda (left) | Photo: Pablo Neruda Foundation

Published 25 July 2019

According to Reyes, the appearance of the botulinum toxin in the molar demonstrates that this substance must have come through the bloodstream and with it would prove the participation of third parties in the death of the bard

The prolonged investigation into the death of the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda finds itself at a crucial point, now that the sediment samples that the Legal Medical Service (SML) had refused to hand over, have appeared.

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The day before, Judge Mario Carroza, in charge of the case, appeared at the SML headquarters together with representatives of the Investigative Police and the expert Gloria Ramírez, with a court order to collect the delivery of these samples and all the documentation relative to the chain of custody and analysis performed by that entity. 

At a press conference this Thursday, Rodolfo Reyes, Neruda's nephew, and lawyer Elízabeth Flores, explained that this step ends the long chain of delays, errors and negligence of the SML to collaborate in clarifying the death of the Nobel Prize for Literature at the end of 1973.

Reyes denounced that the SML, attached to the Ministry of Justice, unreasonably delayed the delivery of the sediments required by Judge Mario Carroza, and by the Canadian laboratory that analyzed Neruda's remains, to issue its final conclusions. 

In 2017 a panel of scientists from the Canadian Mac Master laboratory and from Denmark and Spain delivered a joint report to Judge Carroza in which they reported the finding of deadly amounts of botulinum toxin (Clostridium botulinum​​​​​​​) in bone remains and in the pulp of a Neruda's molar. 

That study also made it clear that the author of 'I confess that I have lived' had cancer, but that he did not die of cancerous cachexia, as stated in his false death certificate.

According to Reyes, the appearance of the botulinum​​​​​​​ toxin in the molar demonstrates that this substance must have come through the bloodstream and with it would prove the participation of third parties in the death of the bard, which would definitely be proven with the study of soil sediments obtained in the surroundings of the tomb of Neruda. 

For her part, lawyer Elizabeth Flores recalled that in 2018 the sediment analysis could not be done because among the Ministries of Interior and Justice they did not agree on who should pay the experts salaries.

Last February, the Comptroller's Office ordered the Ministry of Interior to assume all the expenses associated with the case, but overcoming this obstacle the SML continued to refuse all kinds of arguments to collaborate in the case, to the point of denying the results of the investigation of the international experts. 

He considered the attitude of the SML unqualifiable for the damages and delays caused to the investigation and blamed the administrative responsibility on the general director of the SML, Jorge Rubio Kinat, for the errors, disorder and poor information given to justice throughout the entire process.

He recalled that, coincidentally, Rubio Kinat held a high position at the Santa María Clinic, where Neruda died, in which justice was also repeatedly obstructed at the beginning of the investigation. 

The lawyer said that now they await only the request of the Canadian authorities to send the samples that would be analyzed with the latest generation equipment at the Mac Master laboratory.

With this, Judge Mario Carroza could close the summary and issue a final judgment of the case, leaving the way open to verify who or who would be the perpetrators of the murder.

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