The eggplant fries at midnight is the first fad Manuel Araya recalls that "big kid" who sometimes could be Pablo Neruda. Although not indicated station, he rummaged for all markets in the region to which the poet could enjoy one of their favorite dishes. Only then off to sleep. Other times, "Pablito", gave him a milk by spoon roast and talk until morning to ward off insomnia stalking him in his last nights of winter. "He got spoiled, was the only change I noticed in him when he got sick," says Araya, who turned nostalgic trade with the solemnity of a samurai. After Neruda resign his post as ambassador to France and returned to Chile in November 1972, Araya was the poet's bodyguard and driver. Day two began when she wore a guard for Neruda remojara washing hands before eating breakfast. Neruda was a leaf through the newspapers, at ten drank fruit juice, and began to write verses in green ink and memories that were piling up. So Araya paper listed chaos. "Look mate ordered me out," she told the poet, and gave him one of the smiles that soon begin to dwindle.
In his childhood, he lived on a farm Araya port of San Antonio, in the fifth region of Chile. When I was fourteen, was the Communist leader and two-time senator, Juliet Campusano who treated him like a son and took him in Santiago. He received training in security and intelligence. He learned fast. Both, who became president Salvador Allende messenger. Today, Manuel is sixty-five years, and an enviable memory. Meticulous, weaves the details of a story that could prove that Neruda did not die for branch prostate cancer but by a third party acting secret.
Araya has gray hair, and the imprint of a soldier. Reaches a precise whereabouts of San Antonio and dressed in an impeccable suit lead. Retains a revealing their ancient martial and also some asperity, that of someone who has suffered enough in life. Already installed in the office of Councilman Pedro Pina, who helps with research-starts the interview. Looks like another person when he confesses with the voice of a loving grandfather, who has dreamed poet sees and feels cheerful calls. A few weeks ago, Araya became ill with a strange exhaustion that prevented him from walking, just after his true jump to the international press. "You know, in a moment I thought I was dying with so much history journalist wondering ... I would have been happy. "
Idly, Araya begins to remember how they were the days before the poet's death. There are vivid raids, the screams and fear. Two days after the coup of September 11, a truck arrived with more than forty military to search the house in Isla Negra. A captain came into the room and told Neruda seeking weapons. The poet, sadly, looked out the window and saw digging your garden and how the jackboot crushing the country he loved. The terror was becoming untenable.
On September 19 I was all set to Neruda's trip to Mexico, agreed with the president of this country and its ambassador to Chile, Gonzalo Martinez Corbalá. Araya, Matilde Urrutia and poet departed for Santiago. The destination was the Santa Maria Clinic to prevent run more risks Neruda's house in Isla Negra. According to Araya, the Nobel placed all their hopes on an improvement in Mexico.
Matilde, his last wife, accompanied the poet who called the ambulance, and closely followed them in a car Araya white Fiat 125, which had bought a month earlier. Since the coup, the city and the roads were completely militarized. During the trip were harassed and intercepted every two kilometers to be registered.
This episode is not surprising. After 11 September, Isla Negra was under the governorship of Manuel Contreras, who was in charge of the area and Melipilla Green Gables. This is stated in the record of the provincial governors of San Antonio from 1920 to 1973. That is, the then Colonel Contreras, "The Mamo", decided to put together and rehearse detention TO BECOME director which, in late 1973, would be the dreaded National Intelligence Directorate (DINA).
Araya continues venting of this kind of spell. Do not forget to stop at Melipilla. "They get off the couch to Neruda for review under the pretext of finding weapons. A gift Paul moved like a puppet, he begged for mercy. There was no case. " They came to the clinic touching the curfew and Neruda was hospitalized in part 406. The next day, the poet went clean passing on some poems to Homer Arce, his spell. He insisted continue watching the news on television, but Matilde ordered to be taken away. Protected him from all truth: their homes raided, the murder of Victor Jara and dump corpses that had become the Mapocho River.
The poet asked Manuel and Matilde to return to Isla Negra in search of clothes and books. According to Araya, came on September 22 and still not resigned from the left flank. "It was a mistake, we should not leave him in the care of her sister Laura: she looked good." While searching for things, an employee of the Inn Santa Elena, it took an ominous message. "Pablo says that will be urgent, someone injected him in the stomach while he dozed." Part of this testimony is corroborated by Matilde Urrutia in his book My Life with Pablo Neruda. "Phone rang. It was Paul. He asked me to come back immediately: 'I can not talk more,' he said. I thought the worst was over, feverish as I closed the bag, and I set off. I will stop, I almost crazed. 'We have to go as fast as you can', I told the driver. I do not know how not to kill us. " Manuel corrects a detail of this version: "At that time they had cut the telephone service and the messages were getting through the inn."
Araya recalls that when they arrived at the clinic under Neruda's bags and left them in the car that would take the poet diplomat airport. He went up to the room, saw the poet with reddish face and with a puncture in the abdomen, a stain that stretched as with a mosquito bite. He dipped a towel to try to lower the fever of "Peter". Remember that a doctor came into the room. "He was dark and mustache, told me I had to buy a drug, a prescription that said Urogotán and told me that I could find in a pharmacy Vivaceta street".
Manuel went to Fiat, took the street Balmaceda and as it was approaching its destination, it stopped two cars, they ambushed him, one forward and one back.
- Dude! Are you the secretary of Neruda? Abofetaban shouted while. Answer!
Araya ended up on the floor, with punches and a direct shot in the left leg.
Now out of the trance. "I'll show you," says Araya. It has a two-inch scar on his knee. "How did they know it was me? I have always believed that since the clinic colluded with people who stopped me, "he confesses.
After being held in a police station at midnight was transferred to the National Stadium. He was tortured and interrogated about the whereabouts of communist leaders. Never stopped kicking and punching. "Do not know, do not know what you're talking about." Neruda once warned him that he was being punished for having worked as his assistant, they would ask for "peer" and asked her to take out her eyes but never say anything. Araya kept his promise.
Six days later, was Cardinal Raúl Silva Enríquez, in charge of protecting the persecuted of the time, who found him and called for medical attention for him. "The priest told me that Mr. Paul had died at ten-thirty in the evening of September 23. I could not believe. " Araya was detained for 45 days. His tormentors released him in November.
The newspaper La Segunda, the September 24, 1973, confirms the disappearance of Araya and the reporting of Matilde. The evening changes an item in history says that Manuel was lost when he went to buy a wreath for Neruda. A fact that Araya denies. The newspaper reports: "The widow had merely requested respect for the pain and also reported that yesterday afternoon had gone his driver and private car after the driver went to buy a crown. No return and has not seen or heard from him. " Matilde Urrutia also documented in his book. "I approached the evening and my driver had not appeared. The day before I left the clinic and went to save the car (...). I knew that he was arrested upon arrival on the island, a bit of me in the clinic. And then I made him look, he was at the National Stadium suffering the most atrocious torture. According to them, it was hard and did not confess anything. Poor boy who wandered with Paul for markets, antique shops (...) with him I lost the only person who was with me at all hours of the day. "
A doctor on duty
Eduardo Contreras, plaintiff attorney's case and recognized for his work in human rights, reveals that Neruda's death certificate says he was in a state of cachexia, ie extreme malnutrition and weakness. This condition does not match Araya's testimony, or the former Ambassador of Mexico to Chile, Gonzalo Martinez Corbalá. "Gonzalo said, 'Paul was as robust as ever', spoke to him in his room, saw the final details of the trip, 23 the plane was already in the airport china (...) We have not requested the exhumation of Neruda's body, until it becomes necessary to verify that a toxic substance was administered or not, "said Contreras, for those who just think that Neruda spent his last days in the Santa Maria Clinic, the same facility where he was assassinated in 1984 former President Eduardo Frei Montalva injections of three doses of thallium and mustard gas components. In the case, four doctors were prosecuted. "That Neruda was a military target is a serious event and our duty is to ask for an investigation justice to the end", shoot the lawyer.
Ambassador Martinez Corbalá gave sworn in Mexico, which could reach these days to present.
Between half damaged the microfilms of the National Library, the press of the time tells the inaccuracies of fact between 23 and 24 September. El Mercurio de Valparaíso published on Monday 24 that Pablo Neruda is a result of a severe shock suffered by an injection of painkiller, and other data adds: "The sudden pressure drop experienced yesterday, after having given a sedative injection, forced the doctor trafficker Roberto Vargas Salazar, distinguished urologist and nephrologist, interconsultation calling a cardiologist. "This is a very important low pressure 'explained the doctor and professor of cardiology, who declined yet identified."
El Mercurio of Santiago from September 24 published "The Chilean poet, who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971, was hospitalized in serious condition at the clinic said Saturday. Subsequently, as a result of a shock suffered after having been placed an injection soothing accentuated its gravity. "
In the press release September 23, 1973 shows the name of Sergio Draper, one of the doctors on duty. After a preliminary screening, Draper, vascular surgeon agrees to talk to your inquiry Ñ (works in a medical center). He had to testify in the case Frei, where he was attending physician. He has never spoken to the press. Answer obfuscated, but wants to give his version which supports the actions of the clinic. "It happened forty years ago, Neruda went with a prostate cancer diagnosis that they had in France and came here with multiple metastases, a terminal cancer spread throughout the body, a pre-coma state."
- Did you read the statements of Manuel Araya, former driver Neruda?
'That I do not know but I can say that the treatment did to Neruda was indicated by Vargas Salazar. The clinic does no treatment other than that indicated by the treating physician. (...) I saw him only a moment on Sunday September 23, I do not correpondía assist you. That day, the nurse on duty told me that Neruda apparently suffered a lot of pain, I said I would apply the injection prescribed by your doctor, if I remember was a dipyrone. If the clinic was so bad, why treating doctors took their patients?
-In Santa Maria clinic assassinated President Frei Montalva, you may have doubts, at least you could have care fraud in the bard.
-I ordered that he be given an injection prescribed by your doctor. I was nothing more than a party. It is the height that we are constantly under suspicion ...
Araya Neruda insists that something was done at the clinic, and says continue to seek clues to support their testimony. Rubs cold arms, and realizes that it darkened. "I wanted sick, knows" he says, explaining that it was good to know that side of the poet that many ignore, the nearby, but also the staunch communist. Days before the coup, read the sonnets Mistral's death. You may already foreshadowed the nightmare to come, and maybe even his own death. Araya realizes it has not had the end of his dream. "Ah, I see smiling Pablito. I heard him clearly, he said, 'Manuel seems we came to a happy ending.' "