Was Poet Pablo Neruda Murdered by a CIA Operative?

4 Jun

My poetry was born between the hill and the river, it took its voice from the rain, and like the timber, it steeped itself in the forests. 

— Pablo Neruda, Memoirs


by Russ McSpadden / Earth First! Newswire

Depending on who you ask, the Nobel Prize winning poet Pablo Neruda either died of prostate cancer or was killed by a CIA double agent as a part of the “tidying up” process of a U.S. backed right wing coup in Chile that ousted the Socialist Salvador Allende in favor of Generalissimo Augusto Pinochet.

 and released by attorney Eduardo Contreras oThis drawing done by Chile's policen Monday, June 3, 2013, shows a representation of the face of Dr. Price, who allegedly attended Pablo Neruda at the hospital when he died forty years ago. Judge Mario Carroza is formally investigating the cause of death of the Nobel Prize-winning poet. A judge ordered the police sketch based on the collections of Dr. Sergio Draper, a key witness who attended Neruda at the hospital. Draper said in the 1970s that he was at Neruda's side when he died. But Draper recently told the judge a different story — that a "Dr. Price" took over Neruda's care just before he died, and disappeared shortly thereafter. The police notes below the sketch describe the subject as about 28 years old, with blue eyes, white skin and short blonde. (AP Photo/Chile's Police)

This drawing done by Chile’s police shows a representation of the face of Dr. Price.

Human rights lawyer Eduardo Contreras argues that new evidence suggests that the poet “was likely murdered by agents of dictator Augusto Pinochet” by way of an injection of poison. Neruda, who was radicalized during the Spanish Civil War, was both a world famous poet and an outspoken communist. Now, following new testimony from an old witness, a judge has ordered a search for a potential suspect in his murder, which appears to lead back to the CIA.

Dr. Sergio Draper, who had previously attested that he was at Neruda’s side when he died, September 23, 1973, has recanted that statement, claiming that a “Dr. Price” took over Neruda’s care during the day of his death. Draper provided police sketch artists with details of the man, describing him as a man in his late twenties, with blue eyes, blond hair and white skin.  Hospital records from the time record no doctor by the name of Price. Draper says he never saw the man again after Neruda’s death. According to some, Price’s description is a near perfect fit for Michael Townley, a CIA double agent that worked for the Chilean secret police under the new right-wing government. However, one prominent historian of the Chilean dictatorship claims that Townley was in Florida at the time of Neruda’s death.

According to the New York Times:

In 2011, Mr. Neruda’s driver at the time, Manuel Araya, publicly claimed that Mr. Neruda had not been in critical condition beforehand and that a day before his death Mr. Neruda, 69, told him that a doctor had given him an injection in the stomach that made him “burn inside.”

Townley “disappeared” following the coup when he was taken into the U.S. witness protection program. He openly admitted to killing Pinochet critics in Washington D.C. and Buenos Aires, including a Chilean ambassador and a Spanish U.N. official.

In this photo released by Chile's Judiciary, forensic specialists dig at the grave of Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda as they prepare for the exhumation of the remains in Isla Negra, Chile, Sunday April 7, 2013. (AP Photo / Judiciary of Chile)

In this photo released by Chile’s Judiciary, forensic specialists dig at the grave of Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda as they prepare for the exhumation of the remains in Isla Negra, Chile, Sunday April 7, 2013. (AP Photo / Judiciary of Chile)

The controversy around the poet’s death has carried on for over 40 years. But earlier this year a judge found there was sufficient evidence to warrant Neruda’s body exhumed. On April 8, the great poet was pulled from the ground and is currently being analyzed by Chilean and international forensic specialists.

So what was Neruda doing on the days before his death? According to Contreras, he was “planning for his exile in Mexico, having intercourse with a lover and discussing the chaotic first days of the Pinochet dictatorship.”

Be sure to check out the Warrior Poet’s Society for a more biocentric look at Pablo Neruda, his murder and whaling in Chile.

9 Responses to “Was Poet Pablo Neruda Murdered by a CIA Operative?”

  1. armedwithvisions June 5, 2013 at 4:37 am #

    What does this post have to do with Earth First!? I mean geez… At least try and spin the story to be a little environmental… For example I did a post on this same story at the Earth First! Poetry website: http://armedwithvisions.com/2013/04/13/dennis-fritzinger-pirate-whaling-in-73/

  2. Jerome June 5, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    ArmedwithDivisions needs every story to be turned into an Earth First! piece? I come here to catch up on relevant movement articles but appreciate the articles that expand beyond Earth First! and found way more information in this article than in the link provided for the weird poem thing. These kinds of articles keep us from becoming a bunch of irrelevant people with a language that no one else understands but us. Long live Neruda should be the lesson here. He spoke to millions, didn’t try to turn everything into his narrow political angle (communism) and we should do the same.

    • armedwithvisions June 5, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

      LOL… You funny Jerome. Neruda did quite well at what you call the “weird poem thing.” And I would of took no issue to the post had it mentioned that Neruda was a “Nature poet.”

      Perhaps your “narrow political angle” means we don’t need to explain Neruda’s relationship to Earth First! newswire, but in truth most people never learned much history and it’s important when EF! “speaks to millions” that we recognize that and provide some context/relationship to the EF! message.

      By the way: Here a link to an EF! oriented nature poem written by Neruda that kinda of reminds me of this discussion: http://armedwithvisions.com/2011/10/14/pablo-neruda-fleas-interest-me-so-much

  3. Earth First! Journal Sonoran Office June 5, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    Ok, I updated the piece with a link to the Warrior Poet’s Society piece. Thanks Dennis. Be sure to keep us updated on pieces like this.

    • armedwithvisions June 5, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

      Thanks… It’s actually me Deane aka:Dirt writing you… Dennis is Editor-in-Chief, I’m just the production editor! 🙂


  1. Was Poet Pablo Neruda Murdered by a CIA Operative? | Design Interaction - June 4, 2013

    […] Russ McSpadden writes at the Earth First! Newswire: […]

  2. Great Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda’s body has been exhumed – long suspected of being poisoned… | huttriverofnz - June 6, 2013

    […] Was Poet Pablo Neruda Murdered by a CIA Operative? […]

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