The Chilean government said Wednesday it will reopen an investigation into the death of the Nobel-Prize winning poet Pablo Neruda to determine whether he was poisoned more than 40 years ago by officers of the military dictatorship.
“There is initial evidence that he was poisoned and in that sense the signs point to the intervention of specific agents... that could constitute a crime against humanity,” Francisco Ugas, head of the government’s humans rights department, said Wednesday.
The poet's remains were exhumed in 2013 over the same allegations, however the tests found no evidence. Neruda died in 1973, just weeks after a military coup ousted Communist President Salvador Allende, whom he had supported.
Neruda's death circumstances led to doubts that he had been a victim of cancer, and instead had been a victim of Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship. Authorities said the new forensic test will look for inorganic or heavy metals in the poet’s remains to try to determine a direct or indirect cause of death.
Neruda remains Chile’s best-known poet. He achieved critical acclaim with the publication in 1924 of a Song of Despair at the age of 19 and Twenty Love Poems and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971 “for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent’s destiny and dreams.”