"The Untold Story of Pablo Neruda" Chapter 1/10



His ambitions are limited to the simple recognition of a truth that now seems to find a way. He does it out of fidelity, respect and admiration for Pablo Neruda, despite his regrets.

Manuel Araya was just 14 years old when he met the Nobel Prize for Literature. He never imagined that as an adult he would accompany him in the last stretch of Neruda's life. But he doesn't beat around the bush: he was assassinated by the Pinochet dictatorship.

We have come together to serve as common threads for various plots that will address secrets and poetry from Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto (Pablo Neruda).

Araya and the NGO Antología Popular 1972-Patrimonio de Chile, from the port city of San Antonio, will be sources of inestimable value for unraveling episodes - some unpublished - of one of the greatest poets of Latin America in history.

The essence of international news is already known: for the first time there is a tacit official recognition of the fact that, as Araya has reiterated ad nauseam, Neruda's death was not associated with prostate cancer.

A statement from the Chilean Government assures that "the intervention of third parties in the death of Pablo Neruda is clearly possible and highly probable."

Nothing surprising for this man with leather tanned by hard work, with a deep scar on his left leg, from when he was shot by Pinochet front men on September 23, 1973, the date of the writer's death.

Driver and personal assistant to the author of Canto General, Araya tells me one of the passages of whom he defined as a romantic poet, a passionate lover of women, food and the good life; the committed left-wing man and the genuine friend.




-The name is something that I think has never been explained very well. I, who come from the country, understand the attitude of Neruda's father in those days. And also knowing his father, one can better understand Neruda's things.

-José del Carmen Reyes, Neruda's father, was a train driver, rude and with a life of lovers in every town he visited. He did not understand why his son had such tendencies with poetry and considered him something feminine, homosexual. He spanked him frequently.

-All that made him change his name, because he was actually running away from his father. He had lost his mother, Rosa Neftalí Basoalto one month after he was born, as a result of tuberculosis. His mother was a high school teacher and wrote poems.

- The last name was taken in homage to the Czech poet Jan Neruda and Pablo's name because it sounded good to him.

To the obvious question of what Pablo Neruda was like in real life, my interlocutor takes a short pause to convey his experiences, in a first approximation, with the promise that we will return to the subject.

-He was behaving like a child. I had those things. He was very much given to pleasure, to the enjoyment of all the good things that life gave him. As if appreciating every minute of freedom. His childhood was complicated, due to that difficult relationship with his father and not having met his mother.

-So, José del Carmen was a womanizer. Neruda was no less. He was in love with women, of all it can be said, and lived the moments passionately.

From all this anecdote arose, without a doubt, the vibrant 20 Love Poems and a Desperate Song.




Manuel Araya jumps from one memory to the other, but with surprising clarity, without losing the coherence of his ideas.

Going back over a story many times told is always a challenge. Over the years he has not given up trying to convince public opinion that Pablo Neruda was another victim of the crimes of the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990).

The key that makes the case a topical issue was the discovery, by Spanish scientists in the poet's mortal remains, of residues of golden staphylococcus, a foreign element not associated with prostate cancer that allegedly caused his death.

This news, along with the most recent news from the Chilean Ministry of the Interior admitting the probable murder of Neruda, alleviates the heavy burden that Araya has carried in his life, in his stubborn idea of being heard.

-When I found him in 1972, it wasn't bad, just some ailments but nothing serious. He was always a vital person, who usually had business lunches every day. He talked a lot, wrote and lived the high life. He was like a child.

Araya was assigned as Neruda's driver and personal assistant upon his return to Chile in November 1972. Both were members of the Communist Party.

Araya was assigned as Neruda's driver and personal assistant upon his return to Chile in November 1972. Both were members of the Communist Party.

-Everything was happening normally, although with many tensions due to the conspiracy that existed against President Salvador Allende, whom Neruda tried to help whenever possible. However, the coup d'état of September 11, 1973 affected him too much.

-He started to feel bad and we took him to the Santa María de Santiago clinic, where they put him in room 406. The procedures were being done and there was an offer from Mexican President Luis Echeverría to receive him in his country.

- On September 23 I learned about the visit of Alicia Urrutía, the niece of his wife Matilde, with whom he had an affair. He had sent me and Matilde to his house in Isla Negra to find some books to take to Mexico.

-A call at 4 in the afternoon gave the news of Neruda's aggravation. They had given him an injection in the stomach, they say a dipyrone, nobody knows why. They asked me to go in search of medicine and Pinochet's agents detained me in the street. I did not see Neruda again, that September 23, 1973 he passed away.

The account has many other edges, but we better leave it for another chapter of secrets and poetry by Pablo Neruda    

Source: FaustoTriana.com