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Chile exhumes body of poet Neruda

A band played during the exhumation of Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda’s body in Isla Negra, Chile, on Monday.

Felipe Trueba/European Press photo Agency

A band played during the exhumation of Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda’s body in Isla Negra, Chile, on Monday.

ISLA NEGRA, Chile — Chilean forensic experts exhumed the body of Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda on Monday, trying to solve a four-decade mystery about the death of one of the greatest poets of the 20th century.

The official version is that that the poet died from prostate cancer and the trauma of witnessing the 1973 military coup that led to the persecution and killing of many of his friends. But his driver and many other Chileans say Neruda was poisoned by agents of General Augusto Pinochet .

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Neruda was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1971.

He planned to go into exile, where he would have been an influential voice against the dictatorship. Just a day before he was scheduled to leave, he was taken to Santa Maria hospital in Santiago to keep him safe from political persecution.

Neruda died there Sept. 23, 1973, reportedly from natural causes related to the emotional impact of the coup.

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