Luisa Valenzuela writes to Paraguayan writer Nelson Aguilera


nelsonDear Nelson Aguilera,

I want to extend to you my complete support as well as that of many of my colleagues. Your trial is reminiscent of a witch hunt, far removed from all literary debate. Along with the experts, I believe that there has been absolutely no plagiarism, but rather a similar approach to topics that are in the public domain. And since we’re on the topic of time, let us imagine H.G. Wells – former president of PEN International – passing judgment on Mrs. María Eugenia Garay [author of El tunel del tiempo/The Time Tunnel, brought the case of plagiarism against Mr Aguilera] ; as if intertextuality weren’t often part of literary creation.

Not only that: assuming that the judges were already decided on the matter, the proposed punishment is alarmingly disproportionate to the alleged “crime,” both in duration and location, as we are not unaware of Tacumbú prison’s infamy. I fear that such a sentence would be perceived as a political manoeuvre threatening the most basic human rights.

But I am extremely hopeful that everything will come out for the best, and justly. I cannot believe that an injustice of this calibre is taking place in the country where the Operation Condor archives were brought to light. How pathetic such jurisprudence seems: great writers who have been found to be plagiarists, with entire paragraphs reproduced verbatim—despite their blaming their respective secretaries — should spend years in the shadows rather than walking free, their only punishment being their tarnished reputations.

Nelson, I understand that a writer with your trajectory must put himself on the line for his beliefs (we have already seen this in your brief novel, which even in its title is eloquent, En el nombre de los niños…de la calle/In the Name of the Children…on the Street). But this is not the case. You are not being tried for the content of your children’s book Karumbita la patriota, which would be inadmissible in your democratic country. You are not being accused for your ideas but for an interpretation of them, an interpretation with such weak evidence that it could be considered a disguised form of censorship. It is because of this that I wish to join the international voices demanding justice.

We hope to see you not only acquitted but also exonerated, free from all stigma.

To read this in Spanish click here.

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