History of International Newspapers: La Prensa in Argentina Part 2

About the International newspaper La Prensa published in Argentina, history and information.

LA PRENSA (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Ezequiel Paz retired in 1943, and Alberto Gainza Paz, son of the founder's daughter, took over La Prensa. A revolution was going on which ended in the setting up of a de facto Government headed by Juan Peron. Peron immediately established a centralized office of information on official news and otherwise limited the activities of the press. Journalists had to register with the Government or be barred from working.

La Prensa, anti-Peron, did not moderate its position. On April 26, 1944, Peron suspended it for 5 days as a kind of punishment. When the paper resumed publication, Paz quoted Argentine patriot Esteban Echierria: "Equality and freedom are the principles that engender democracy."

Peron tried everything short of physical force to control La Prensa--he urged people to boycott it, put up posters against it, set up loudspeakers across the street from it to blast insults. La Prensa would not be controlled.

Then on the day the war against Japan ended in 1945, as happy people waved Allied flags, Peron's men invaded and bombed La Prensa. Paz was arrested and put in jail, then released.

Peron was sympathetic to the Axis (Germany, Japan, and Italy) and wanted to embarrass the U.S. with that sympathy. La Prensa made it difficult for him to accomplish his purpose.

In 1947, the Government demanded a huge sum for import duties on newsprint, retroactive to 1939, from La Prensa, with the trumped-up excuse that since La Prensa had printed advertising on it, it was a taxable item.

In January, 1951, the government-controlled Union of News Vendors began to pressure La Prensa to allow the union to handle its circulation. La Prensa refused, and there was violence. La Prensa appealed to the police, but got nowhere. Its 1,300 loyal employees kept working in spite of threats. On the night of January 26-27, Peron's men blockaded the plant. The staff of La Prensa decided not to abide by the blockade. The next day they marched across the plaza to the plant until armed Peronistas opened fire. One workman was killed, and 14 were wounded.

Peron took over the paper. Most of its staff left Argentina. Paz escaped in a small boat over the Rio de la Plata to refuge on his mother's ranch in Uruguay. For the next 4 years, he gave Peron bad publicity all over the world.

In 1955, Peron was overthrown. On February 3, 1956, Paz returned to Argentina to take over the paper again. The 1st issue appeared as number 29,476, ignoring the years Peron had controlled the paper. From then on, it began to regain its circulation (which had dropped drastically under Peron) and its prestige.

The Present. La Prensa remains idealistic and independent, dignified yet lively. It provides excellent coverage of foreign affairs--more than most U.S. papers--and of domestic politics, economics, culture, science, and social problems.

On Sundays, 2 feature sections offer high-quality pieces on travel, history, science, art, or literature, complete with pictures.

La Prensa continues its altruistic social programs with a free medical clinic, library, and advice. In the La Prensa building there is a 200-seat hall in which free lectures are given.

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