Experts deliver report on death of Pablo Neruda, claim he was poisoned

A team of international experts concluded a years-long investigation into the death of the Chilean poet and diplomat Pablo Neruda. The conclusion is at odds with Neruda’s official death certificate, which states that he died from complications related to prostate cancer. The definitive report will be delivered in March.

Paola Plaza, the judge overseeing the investigation into Pablo Neruda’s death, received a report by international DNA and forensics experts, confirming that a neurotoxin found in Neruda’s molar in 2017 could be related to his death.

Plaza will receive the full report on Mar. 7 and then determine if Neruda died of unnatural causes. The investigation took five years.

The experts concluded that the neurotoxin entered Neruda’s body before his death. Called clostridium botulinum, it is lethal in small doses and, according to the study, could have caused his death within hours. His family and friends claimed for decades that he was in good health just before he died. 

Manuel Araya, who was Neruda’s assistant, has maintained that an unscheduled injection into the abdomen contained a toxic substance.

Neruda, an ally of then president Salvador Allende, died on Sep. 23, 1973, about two weeks after the coup d’état, which led to suspicions of an unnatural death. These suspicions gained traction after the neurotoxin was found in his exhumed body decades later. 

The death certificate, signed by Neruda’s physician Roberto Vargas Salazar, stated prostate cancer as the cause of death.


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