Nov 2018

Poet, hero, rapist – outrage over Chilean plan to rename airport after Neruda

Human rights activists argue that the honour is inappropriate for a man who described raping a maid in his memoir

Pablo Neruda was a Nobel laureate whose poetry chronicled the lives and struggles of ordinary Latin Americans, and whose life was upheld as a symbol of resistance to dictatorship.

But a decision to rename Chile’s busiest international airport after him has been met with outrage from human rights activists who argue that the honour is inappropriate for a man who admitted to rape in his own memoirs.

The cultural committee of Chile’s lower house voted this month to rename Santiago airport after Neruda, best known for his encyclopedic work Canto General, or General Song, a sweeping verse history of the Americas.

Carolina Marzán, a deputy who voted in favour of the move, told reporters that the name of the poet “who made all Chileans proud” should be the first thing visitors see when they arrive in the country.

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