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CULTURE | 13-10-2017 16:46

Robert Cox: “They told us to ‘behave’ during the 1978 World Cup”

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.

The Times is publishing a series of articles that explore the life and work of Robert Cox, editor of the Buenos Aires Herald during the last dictatorship. Cox’s remarkable life story is portrayed in the documentary film El mensajero (“Messenger on a White Horse”), released this week in cinemas in Buenos Aires City.

Argentina’s 1978 World Cup was a perfect opportunity for the country’s ruling military dictatorship to cover its tracks. Victims’ relatives groups had formed including the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, who had gained significant ground in exposing the Armed Forces’ crimes abroad. Now, the country was gripped by nationalistic furore and by the prospect of taking football’s highest prize.



“We were called in and told to behave”, Cox recalls. “‘The world will be watching,’ they said.”

On one occasion, following a press conference on preparations for the tournament, Cox chased then-Interior minister General Albano Harguindeguy into his office. And unbeknownst to the London-born editor, his tape recorder was still on. On tape, Harguindeguy can be chillingly heard confessing to Cox: “I can’t be like Jesus and say ‘Lazarus, arise again.’”

“They were all dead”, Cox recalls in El mensajero. “It was a confession but I still couldn’t get my head around it all.”

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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