The scientific experts submitted a report to the judge, who will review his conclusions before making a decision. Although they discovered the presence of botulism bacteria in Neruda’s remains, they cannot confirm that they were intentionally introduced into his body.
The bacterium Clostridium botulinum “was there at the time of his death, but we still don’t know why. All we know is that it shouldn’t be there,” Hendrik and Debi Poinar of McMaster University (Canada) told AFP in an exchange.
The scientists confirmed to AFP their statements, published in an article published by McMaster University in Canada on Wednesday, which said that until now they “have not been able to determine whether the ‘C.botulinum’- Stamm killed him or whether it was used intentionally to kill him.”
The researchers are part of the international panel of scientific experts convened by the Chilean judiciary on the cause of Neruda’s death on September 23, 1973.
The panel, which worked with the studies from the McMaster labs and the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, presented its conclusions to Chilean judge Paola Plaza, responsible for the case, on Wednesday, who said it would examine it in reserve as part of a research phase .
Hendrik and Debi Poinar claimed that they worked for four years, at the request of the Chilean courts, to determine the presence and relevance of the bacteria in Neruda’s body when he died in a Santiago clinic.
The researchers claimed that they recovered enough DNA from a Neruda tooth that they could only reconstruct a third of the Clostridium botulinum genome in question due to the degradation.
However, this work can be completed in the future without a new exhumation.
“There is enough material to do with what is left in the lab now. We just need to know that the court agrees,” the experts told AFP.
Only a new study has been able to determine whether or not it’s a group of disease-causing bacteria, regardless of which strain it corresponds to.
Hendrik Poinar is a Swedish evolutionary geneticist who was a 2022 Nobel Prize in Medicine student Svante Pääbo and one of the researchers who managed to crack the full DNA code, or genome, of two woolly mammoths in 2015.
According to the official version, Neruda, 69 years old and a well-known communist militant, died of suspected complications from prostate cancer.
His death came 12 days after the military coup that overthrew the government of Salvador Allende and established a dictatorship led by Augusto Pinochet.
– The expertise –
The judicial inquiry into the death of Neruda, the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature, began after his former driver, Manuel Araya, told the press in 2011 that the poet may have been poisoned by the Pinochet dictatorship, which left more than 3,200 dead and some 38,000 tortured , according to official information.
Araya stated at a press conference this Thursday that Neruda was not ill enough to be hospitalized on September 19, 1973, but that going into exile in Mexico was a strategy.
“It was for security. On September 14, warships were near Pablo Neruda’s home on Isla Negra. The military surrounded our house. So the problem was how to get Pablo Neruda out of the house,” said Manuel Araya.
In 2017, after years of expertise and scientific study, a group of Chilean and foreign experts asserted that the author of Canto General did not die of cancer, although the panel could not determine the cause of death.
For this reason, studies were requested from laboratories in Denmark and Canada, one of the most advanced in its field, to shed light and try to elucidate Neruda’s death.
Neruda’s nephew Rodolfo Reyes, who has assured without further evidence that it is proven that his uncle died from poisoning by a bacterium, told the press this Thursday that he hopes that in 2023 will be the 50th anniversary of his death , Righteousness reign shall be fulfilled. of the Chilean poet.
“It has to be this year. The death of Pablo Neruda can no longer be covered up. It is already in sight and there are concrete reports. Now (must come) the conclusion and the study of the minister (judge) Paola Plaza,” he claimed .