Clarín and Argentine government waging war over newsprint mill

  • By
  • August 18, 2010

By Maira Magro

The dispute between the Clarín Group, Argentina's largest media conglomerate, and the federal government over Papel Prensa, the largest newsprint factory in the country, has intensified in recent days, with complaints, death threats, and accusations of human rights violations during the dictatorship (1976-1983).

The president and executive director of the Clarín Group, Héctor Magnetto, complained in a meeting last week at the newspaper Clarín that one of his daughters received death threats on two occasions. Additionally, he believes that because of all the pressures he is facing because of the Clarín issue, he could go to prison.

Magnetto also rejected accusations of money laundering and other irregularities with the purchase of Papel Prensa, such as that Clarín owners adopted children of the disappeared during the dictatorship, according to Quilmes Presente.

The government counter-attacked through chancellor Héctor Timerman, who said that the purchase of the paper company was a case of appropriation of a company by the military in partnership with civilians involved in human rights violations.

The president of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, next week will receive a report on the transfer of shares of newspapers Clarín and La Nación during the military dictatorship, reported the state news agency Télam.

Papel Prensa operates as an association with members from the government and the aforementioned newspapers, which acquired the paper company in 1976. Representatives of the government are accusing Clarín and La Nación of having collaborated with the military to not denounce human rights violations committed during the dictatorship and of having received benefits in exchange, such as the paper company, reported the newspaper Perfil.

The accusations are based in part on testimony from Lidia Papaleo, widow of the former owner of Papel Prensa, who said they suffered “extortion, intimidation and threats" to hand over the ownership of the paper company.

She accused Magnetto of threatening her to transfer the company's shares. "Sign or it will cost you the life of you and your daughter," she said Magnetto said during a meeting in 1976.

In a demonstration of the tense relations between the government and the newspapers Clarín and La Nación, the commerce secretary, Guillermo Moreno, brought boxing gloves last week to a meeting of Papel Prensa shareholders.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.