BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Ernestina Herrera de Noble, publisher of Argentina’s most widely circulated newspaper and one of the country’s wealthiest women, died in Buenos Aires on Wednesday, a spokesman for Grupo Clarin confirmed. She was 92.
She took over the helm of the Clarin newspaper in 1969 after the death of her husband Roberto Noble, the paper’s founder. At the time of her death, she was one of four controlling shareholders of Grupo Clarin, Argentina’s largest media conglomerate.
Under Herrera de Noble’s leadership, Clarin acquired radio stations and television channels on its way to becoming the South American country’s largest media group.
Late in her tenure, Grupo Clarin, which is listed on the Buenos Aires bourse, became locked in a dispute with former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez after its news outlets criticized the populist leader’s handling of a 2008 uprising by farmers.
Fernandez encouraged an investigation into the identity of Herrera de Noble’s two adopted children, who human rights groups long suspected were stolen as babies from murdered political prisoners during Argentina’s military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983.
The 10-year battle with activists came to an end in 2011 when tests showed the two children’s DNA did not match samples from 55 families seeking to identify missing relatives. Up to 30,000 people were kidnapped and killed during the so-called Dirty War in a crackdown on leftist dissent, according to rights groups.
Criticized for having too much political influence and market share, Grupo Clarin was nearly forced to break up under a Fernandez-backed anti-monopoly law. Clarin has a 41 percent share of the Buenos Aires area newspaper market, according to a recent securities filing.
“They will not get us to stop doing journalism,” Herrera de Noble said at a 2010 speech, according to an obituary published on Wednesday on Clarin’s website.
“They have put the whole state against us. But we will continue defending with the truth and the law, as always.”
Reporting by Eliana Raszewski and Luc Cohen; Editing by Toni Reinhold