ISLA NEGRA, Chile – The remains of Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda were reburied on Tuesday at his favorite home in a Chilean town overlooking the Pacific Ocean, despite lingering questions surrounding his mysterious death.
The writer died in the chaos following Chile's 1973 right-wing military coup, and some have speculated he was poisoned. His body was exhumed in 2013 to determine the cause of his death. Forensic tests showed no toxic agents in his bones. But Chile's government said in 2015 that it's "highly probable that a third party" was responsible for his death. Other tests are still being carried out by an international team of genomics experts and forensic specialists.
This week, Neruda's family members, politicians and fans paid homage to the beloved poet at Chile's Congress. His remains were then taken to his home built on a rocky cliff over the Pacific Ocean in the coastal town of Isla Negra, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) northwest of Santiago.
"Returning him to Isla Negra is allowing him to look at the sea again, and looking at the sea is not dying - it's coming to life, and that's everything for a poet," said Raul Bulnes of the Neruda Foundation, which runs the poet's three nautical-themed museum homes, which draw thousands of visitors from around the world each year.
Neruda was fascinated by the ocean but preferred to remain a "sailor on land." He is globally known for his love poems, but he was also a diplomat, a left-leaning politician and friend of President Salvador Allende, who killed himself during the 1973 military coup that ousted his government.
At age 69 and suffering from prostate cancer, Neruda became traumatized by the persecution of his friends. He planned to go into exile, where he would have been an influential voice against the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. But he died under suspicious circumstances 12 days after the coup.
Associated Press writer Eva Vergara contributed to this report from Santiago, Chile.