October 24, 2017

We still don’t know what killed Pablo Neruda, but it 100% wasn’t what his death certificate reports


Pablo Neruda.

Alright, so, we’ve got another tally in the Pablo Neruda was probably murdered column.

Public records show that Neruda died of cancer cachexia, a condition that involves severe weight loss, on September 23, 1973. But as Neruda was a close friend of the recently ousted Chilean President Salvador Allende, and as Augusto Pinochet’s military regime had assumed power twelve days prior, and as Neruda was practically on his way to the airport to seek refuge in Mexico, and as Neruda was, well, very fat and not at all severely underweight when he died… well, it just doesn’t quite add up, does it?

Now, four years after Neruda’s body was exhumed for forensic testing, and a year after the Chilean government released a statement that “it’s clearly possible and highly probably that a third party” was responsible for the Nobel laureate’s death, scientists are, according to Adam Feinstein at the Guardian, “100 percent convinced” that Neruda’s death certificate “does not reflect the reality of the death.”

This isn’t quite the smoking gun you’d hope for after four years of lab tests (that would be more like “100 percent convinced that the chauffeur’s story about Neruda being poisoned in the hospital is true”), but the whole thing is only getting fishier. We’ve been following the situation for a while—from the first announcement of the exhumation, to the hunt for the mysterious doctor who was with Neruda when he died, to various conspiracy theories, to last year’s “third party” update—and we’ll keep reporting as the story unfolds.



Taylor Sperry is a former Melville House editor.