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After claiming for more than 40 years that Nobel prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda died of natural causes, Chile has now acknowledged he may have been killed during the country's 1973-1990 military dictatorship led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

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Neruda is widely revered as one of the most important writers of the 20th-century. He gained international attention after the 1924 publication of Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, a collection of verses that has sold millions of copies. In 1994, noted critic Harold Bloom named Neruda one of the 26 individuals most responsible for shaping the Western Canon, a collection of works that have most defined western culture. In 1971, Neruda was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature.

Neruda was also a leftist politician and close friend of Salvador Allende, who in 1970 became Chile's first democratically elected socialist president. Allende's presidency didn't last long; on September 11, 1973, with the support of the United States, Pinochet took control of Chile via a military coup d'etat. Allende committed suicide that day instead of resigning.

Armed guards watch out for attackers as Chilean president Salvador Allende leaves a building during the military coup in which he was overthrown and killed. (Photo by Luis Orlando Lagos Vázquez/Keystone/Getty Images)
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Neruda died just a few days later, on September 23. The official cause of death was cardiac arrest stemming from prostate cancer. However, many have long rejected the explanation, alleging the dictatorship played a role in Neruda's death because of his close association with Allende. Before his death, Neruda planned to go into exile in Mexico.

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In 2011, the Chilean government started investigating the possibility Neruda might not have died of cancer after his driver, Manuel Araya Osorio, told a Mexican magazine he was with the writer when Neruda called his wife to say he believed Pinochet ordered a doctor to poison him. In 2013, Neruda's body was exhumed for forensic analysis.

Which brings us to today. Last week, Spanish newspaper El Pais added a new wrinkle to the case when it published a document from the Chilean interior ministry from earlier this year that states "it is clearly possible and highly probable" that Neruda's death "was caused by a third-party intervention."

Chilean soldier and politician, Augusto Pinochet Ugarte. In 1973 he led a coup which ousted, and resulted in the death of, the Marxist President, Salvador Allende. Pinochet then took over the presidency. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
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A panel of experts is continuing to investigate and a judge probing Neruda's death has requested a new round of tests on his body.

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Fidel Martinez is an editor at Fusion.net. He's also a Texas native and a lifelong El Tri fan.