He often wrote in green ink as it was his personal symbol for desire and hope with his poetry. Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez once called him "the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language." On July 15, 1945, at Pacaembu Stadium in São Paulo, Brazil, he read to 100,000 people in honor of Communist revolutionary leader Luís Carlos Prestes. During his lifetime, Neruda occupied many diplomatic positions and served a stint as a senator for the Chilean Communist Party. When Chilean President González Videla outlawed communism in Chile in 1948, a warrant was issued for Neruda's arrest. Friends hid him for months in a house basement in the Chilean port of Valparaíso.
Later, Neruda escaped into exile through a mountain pass near Maihue Lake into Argentina. Years later, Neruda was a close advisor to socialist President Salvador Allende. When Neruda returned to Chile after his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Allende invited him to read at the Estadio Nacional before 70,000 people. Neruda was hospitalised with cancer at the time of the Chilean coup d'état led by Augusto Pinochet. Three days after being hospitalised, Neruda died of heart failure; however, there are doubts as to whether or not the junta had a hand in his death.
Already a legend in life, Neruda's death reverberated around the world. Pinochet had denied permission to transform Neruda's funeral into a public event. However, thousands of grieving Chileans disobeyed the curfew and crowded the streets. Read more on Last.fm.
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