Buenos Aires Times


Robert Cox on the dictatorship years: 'I decided to become a reporter again'

El mensajero ("Messenger on a White Horse"), a documentary film portraying a defining moment in the history of English-language journalism in Argentina, hits cinemas this week in Buenos Aires City.

Thursday 12 October, 2017
Robert Cox sits at his desk in his office at the Buenos Aires Herald, in the 1970s.
Robert Cox sits at his desk in his office at the Buenos Aires Herald, in the 1970s. Foto:Courtesy Cox family

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To accompany its release, the Times is publishing a series of previews that explore the life and work of Robert Cox, editor of the Buenos Aires Herald during the last dictatorship.

Cox’s Buenos Aires Herald initially supported Argentina’s 1976 coup d’état which installed a military junta in the country’s executive, freezing its Congress and clamping down almost immediately on press freedom. But a series of events prompted the London-born editor to question the sense of law and order that the Armed Forces had so emphatically promised to deliver.

A particularly striking case was the massacre of five Pallottine priests in St. Patrick’s Church in the neighbourhood of Belgrano. In the early hours of July 4 1976, five clergymen were shot dead by a military death squad. Cox learned of the case almost immediately after he received a call from a concerned reader. 

The Herald – which having not yet earned its notoriety was still operating in the shadows – was the only paper to cover the case with a complete front-page report.

The St. Patrick’s massacre would mark be one of the first, but certainly not the last, cases that would draw Cox away from his desk and back into the streets to investigate first hands the crimes of the Police and Armed Forces. Hot the tail of the truth, he was often accompanied by his Anglo-Argentine wife Maud. 

In this teaser, we see how far the couple went to decipher the shocking rumours that reached them inside and out of the Herald newsroom.



El mensajero/Messenger on a White Horse (2017): Cine Gaumont, 12.15pm & 7.30pm / Amigos del Bellas Artes, Fridays at 9pm.



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