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Communists ask to exhume Pablo Neruda's remains in Chile


Celebrated Chilean poet Pablo Neruda is shown at center during a luncheon at the Mexican foreign ministry on July 8, 1943.

SANTIAGO, Chile -- Chile's Communist Party is asking a judge to order the exhumation of the remains of the late Nobel literature laureate Pablo Neruda due to allegations that he may have been poisoned.

Party member Juan Andres Lagos told The Associated Press on Monday that the request will be reviewed by Judge Mario Carroza, who is probing deaths allegedly caused by abuses during the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet between 1973 and 1990.

Manuel Araya, who was Neruda's chauffeur, has told reporters in recent months that he and Neruda's widow received a phone call from the poet on the day of his death from a hospital where he was being treated for late-stage prostate cancer.

Araya reported that Neruda said to "come quickly, because while I was asleep a doctor entered and gave me a shot."

The 69-year-old poet died that day, Sept. 23, 1973, in the Santa Maria Clinic.

The Communist Party, to which Neruda belonged, is asking that his remains be exhumed due to the account of the chauffeur, "who was someone very close to him," Lagos said.

The Pablo Neruda Foundation, which promotes the poet's artistic legacy and runs three museums, has discounted the theory raised by Araya. The foundation said in a statement in May that Araya has been "insisting without any proof other than his own belief."