By: Logan Miller
Plagiarism is serious business not only in academic and professional fields, but also in children’s literature, as Paraguay has shown in the past few days.
“The country is going mental, and I am going to try and make sure the rest of the world knows what’s going on,” said Benjie Aguilera Brown, a junior.
Three years ago, Aguilera Brown said, his father was sued for plagiarizing a children’s book written by María Eugenia Garay entitled, “El Tunél de Tiempo.”
As of Monday morning, Aguilera Brown’s father, Nelson Aguilera, was convicted and sentenced to two and a half years in prison in Paraguay for his book, “Karumbita la Patriota,” after three years of repeated delays from the prosecution.
The two stories, Aguilera Brown admitted, have blatant similarities.
“The characters’ names are the same and the historic places are the same,” he said. “But academics talk about how the style is completely different.”
The story, Aguilera Brown said, is filled with collective and historic devices that are open to all writers.
But Aguilera Brown believes firmly that his father is innocent based solely on his childhood. “The characters in the book are my sister and I,” he said. “The tortoise lives at my house, in my backyard–she is our pet.”
Upon hearing of his father’s conviction, Aguilera Brown cleared his schedule to contact childhood friends from around the globe. On Tuesday, he “was talking to people in Peru, Spain, and Korea.”
While it is clear that Aguilera Brown cares deeply for his father’s well-being, he said, “The big issue is not that a guy is convicted for plagiarism. What involves the whole country is the manipulation of power.”
According to Aguilera Brown, the most important thing is that Garay, the other author, is the Minister of Justice’s sister. A Paraguayan newspaper furthered this claim, saying that Aguilera referred to this relationship as an “intellectual dictatorship.”
While the relationship between Garay and the Paraguayan justice, Cesar Garay Zuccolillo, is coincidental, any motive for Garay to falsely accuse Aguilera of plagiarism is uncertain, Aguilera Brown says.
However, as far as Alguilera Brown’s investigations are concerned, “None of the academics agree with the verdict,” he said.
Despite the alleged corruption within Paraguay that Alguilera Brown has observed and seeks to expose, he only became involved because of his father. He said, “I would not have lifted a finger if it didn’t have to do with my dad.”
Alguilera Brown never expected to be drawn into such a precarious situation as this, but he is nevertheless certain that he has plenty of support.
“I’ve got all the personal support I need,” Alguilera Brown says. “Now I just need people to talk about it.”