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Neruda's widow always denied that the poet died of cancer

Matilde Urrutia defended the thesis that now supports an investigation into the death of the Nobel in 1973

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Neruda's widow always denied that the poet died of cancer
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  • An international team of experts ensures that Pablo Neruda did not die of cancer
  • An official report sees "highly probable" that Neruda was killed

"Paul didn't kill cancer." Thus, in a manner so emphatic, it was expressed by his widow, Matilde Urrutia, a journalist of Efe agency in first weeks of 1974 in House of Isla Negra, next to imposing rocks of beach and thundering roar of ocean. He would remark it again in numerous press interviews until winter of his existence. And to this same conclusion scientists have arrived that since 2013 have examined in a conscientious way a part of remains of poet in laboratories of several countries with most advanced technology.

On May 5, 1974, La Patoja, with whom poet married on October 28, 1966, explained to Buenos Aires newspaper opinion that Dr. Roberto Vargas Zalazar ( most important Chilean urologist of that time) had assured him in August 1973 : "Paul will live at least six years and may even die of anything else, but not cancer he has, because he is perfectly controlled." It was Vargas Zalazar who scored on death certificate, which completed morning of Monday, September 24, 1973 at his home without examining inert body, cause of dead today already invalidated: "Cachexia cancerous." Prostate cancer. Cancerous metastases.

On September 19, 1974, in an extensive interview with daily people in Spain, Matilde Urrutia reaffirmed in her conviction: "The only truth is that harsh impact of news [of coup d'etat] caused him to be paralyzed by days later." The cancer he suffered was very much dominated and we did not foresee this sudden outcome. "He did not reach or leave testament, for death was still far away." Indeed, in Austral winter of 1973, although almost always prostrated in his bedroom of Black island, Neruda continued preparation of his memoirs toger with his secretary and great friend Homer Arce, culminated writing of seven poems that were published Posthumously in 1974 and even prepared traditional farewell to end of year in his beautiful house of Cerro Florida Valparaiso: La Sebastiana.

In September 1983, in one of last interviews he gave, in this case to Chilean magazine Análisis, Matilde Urrutia again referred to death of her husband: "Paul had a cancer." The Doctor who served him and visited him often told me that he would live for at least five or six years. The truth is that coup affected him very much, he practically collapsed it. Even though I was trying not to find out what was happening, that was impossible (...) "I have No doubt that Paul died as a result of coup."

The judicial investigation of death of Pablo Neruda faces a new stage. If scientists had confirmed cause of death scored by Vargas Zalazar, it would possibly have concluded within next few months. Now, instead, se will try to clarify origin of new toxin found in its remains to discern if it could be inoculated by third parties. In this case, y would have been agents of dictatorship to prevent him from traveling to Mexico, where he planned to issue a statement against military Junta. In exile, poetic and political voice of 1971 Nobel Prize, universally admired, would have been Pinochet's great enemy, who, incidentally, in those days was aware of poet's state of health.

It still stands, n, possibility of assassination denounced by Manuel Araya, modest communist militant who was his driver since December 1972 and that toger with Matilde Urrutia was only person who accompanied him, at all times, since that morning of 11 of September that cut incipient spring of Black Island until its final hours of September 23, 1973. It is a complex judicial, scientific and historical investigation directed with tenacity and rigour by Judge Mario float, which occupies more than three thousand pages, in nine volumes of statements and inquiries, in addition to a "book reserved".

Of course, already ruled out cancer as a cause of death, can be argued more solidly even that his demise was product, at least, of terrible suffering, agony in which he plunged last night of his life after meeting in room 406 of Clínica Santa María The cruel murder of Víctor Jara and, in short, magnitude of repression against his people.

Mario Amorós is a journalist and historian, author of biography Neruda. The Prince of Poets (Editions B)

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