Latin America Brings Up Its Dead, Seeking Truth to Help Settle the Past

tags: Latin America, juntas, military dictatorships

RIO DE JANEIRO — In the aftermath of Chile’s 1973 military coup, the Nobel Prize-winning poet and diplomat Pablo Neruda was found dead. Although he was long thought to have perished from prostate cancer, a judge recently ordered his remains exhumed from a grave overlooking the Pacific Ocean to investigate claims that he was poisoned.

The same year as Chile’s coup, soldiers in the Dominican Republic executed Francisco Caamaño, a guerrilla leader and former president. Forensic experts recently unearthed remains thought to be his, four decades after he was killed, in hopes of identifying and depositing them in the Dominican Republic’s pantheon of heroes.

Ghosts are also stirring in Brazil, as officials examine claims that two former civilian presidents, João Goulart and Juscelino Kubitschek, were assassinated in 1976. Lacking proof, investigators say they will soon exhume Mr. Goulart, to see if he was poisoned by spies while in exile in Argentina, and Mr. Kubitschek’s driver, to determine whether a sniper caused the car crash that killed them both....

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