SANTIAGO — Chilean poet Gonzalo Rojas, who was forced into exile after the 1973 military coup, died Monday after suffering a debilitating stroke two months ago, one of his sons said. He was 93.
The poet, considered one of the greatest Latin American writers, won numerous literary awards in his time, including the 2003 Cervantes Prize -- the top literary award for Spanish-language literature -- the Chilean National Prize for Literature, the Queen Sofia Prize of Iberian American Poetry (awarded by the King of Spain), Mexico's Octavio Paz prize and the Jose Hernandez Prize of Argentina.
The writer's son Gonzalo Rojas-May Ortiz told Radio Cooperativa the poet died "after suffering a stroke in February that kept him in serious condition for about two months."
The son of a coal miner, Rojas was born in 1917 in the port of Lebu, 600 kilometers (370 miles) south of Santiago.
His vast body of work includes his first poetry anthology "The Misery of Man" in 1948, "Against Death" (1964), "Dark" (1977), "Transtierro" (1979), "On Lightning" (1981) and "From the Water" (2007).
In September 1973 Rojas was in Havana, about to take over the job as Chile's ambassador, when general Augusto Pinochet launched a coup that toppled leftist president Salvador Allende.
Rojas went into exile in Germany, and then moved to Venezuela, where he, his second wife and youngest son obtained citizenship. The family moved back to Chile in 1979.
Education Minister Joaquin Lavin called the poet's death "a great loss to Chilean literature." Rojas had been considered Chile's most important living poet.
Culture Minister Luciano Cruz Coke said the government declared two days of official mourning starting Tuesday, adding that Rojas would be buried Wednesday in Chillan, some 450 kilometers (280 miles) south of the capital. President Sebastian Pinera was expected to attend the funeral.
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