Former Buenos Aires Herald editor Robert Cox has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Rosario for his tireless work in holding Argentina’s 1976-1983 military dictatorship to account.
Last June 23 the British journalist was conferred the title of ‘Doctor Honoris Causa’ by the university’s Faculty of Humanities and Arts during a ceremony headed by faculty dean Alejandro Vila.
Directing the Herald as the junta came to power, Cox took the initiative in making the newspaper the first medium to inform openly and systematically already in 1976 about the disappearance of persons under the military dictatorship. He regularly attended the Thursday marches of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo human rights group until his arrest in 1977.
From that moment onwards he and his family lived under threat, ending up in exile in the United States.
“I went to see what was going on [at the marches] when most Argentines did not know and did not want to know,” said Cox during his speech. “It’s like a film stuck in my head the whole time and arriving here is something of a conclusion to my life.”
Upon receiving the distinction awarded by the university, the brand-new doctor continued: “With so much emotion it’s difficult to recall our struggle for democracy and for life in the newspaper Buenos Aires Herald, which was extraordinary.”
Cox, 89, underlined that democracy and human rights are never gained without a struggle.
Paying tribute to the guest of honour, Vila stressed: “There are more than enough reasons to award the greatest distinction a public university can give to Robert Cox; it gives us pride and prestige to have him as part of our institution.”
The dean highlighted the veteran journalist’s exemplary stand against terror, darkness and silence: “He was a voice, a reference and a hope for thousands.” Vila further referred to his commitment to his vocation, journalistic ethics, and the quest for truth which “serves to save lives.”
Vila went on to praise Cox’s convictions, sustaining democracy, the republic and human rights in difficult moments, but above all his courage in making the world know what was going on under state terrorism before going into exile.
The ex-Herald editor would eventually return, finally testifying in the junta trial in 1985.
University Chancellor Franco Bartolacci said that it was an enormous privilege for the institution to receive him formally as part of its academic staff.
“We come to thank him today for not only his career but for his lifestyle and the dignity with which he questioned, moved and mobilised our community,” said the chancellor.
“We thank him for that testimony questioning our daily practices, our horizons, our principles, our values, our commitment and responsibilities permitting us to give a message to our community and society as a whole,” said Bartolacci, concluding: “Welcome to our house which, as from today, is also yours.”
Ruben Chababo was in charge of reading out the laudatio praise of the award-winner. Then Chancellor Bartolacci took the oath from Robert Cox and delivered the diploma and medal.
Finally, the brand-new Doctor Honoris Causa gave his master-class lecture, sharing the wisdom of years of experience.
– TIMES [Reporting by Joe Schneider and Michael Soltys]