2014 Paraguay: Nelson Aguilera

Oslo, 12. November 2014


His Excellency Sr. Horacio Manuel Cartes
Presidente de la República del Paraguay
Palacio de Gobierno,
El Paraguayo Independiente entre O’Leary y Ayolas
Asunción, Paraguay


Dear President

Writer, teacher and member of PEN Paraguay, Nelson Aguilera was sentenced to 30 months in prison for alleged plagiarism on 4 November 2013. His conviction is currently the subject of an appeal to the Supreme Court of Justice. Aguilera is alleged to have plagiarised Maria Eugenia Garay’s 2005 novel El túnel del tiempo (The Tunnel of Time)  in his 2010 novel for children Karumbita: La patriota (Karumbita: The Patriot). Independent experts and writers have found that the similarities in the two works cannot be described as plagiarism. PEN believes Aguilera’s sentence to be unjust and calls on the Paraguayan authorities to quash his conviction without further delay.

On 1 July 2010, writer Maria Eugenia Garay Zucolillo filed a lawsuit against Nelson Aguilera alleging that he had plagiarised her adult novel El túnel del tiempo (Criterio Ediciones, 2005) in the second in his series of children’s novels Karumbita: La patriota (Alfaguara Infantil, 2010).

At least six independent experts and writers have provided separate detailed written analyses of both Aguilera and Garay’s works and found that the similarities in them cannot be described as plagiarism. They argue that while both texts feature similar thematic elements, such as time travel, and significant dates in Paraguayan history, the manner in which they are used is significantly different. The analyses show that the literary styles, structure and argument of the works differ significantly and that Aguilera has not lifted any sentences or paragraphs from Garay’s work.

Experts also highlighted that where similarities were found these were owing to both authors referencing known historical facts and events. Such facts belong to neither one of the authors. The experts add that time travel has been used as a theme throughout literature and as such its use alone cannot constitute plagiarism.

According to Aguilera, 40 witnesses were prevented from testifying in his defence during the trial as the judge ruled that they had been presented too late.

Norwegian PEN


  • Condemn the conviction and 30-month prison sentence to of Paraguayan writer Nelson Aguilera for alleged plagiarism in his children’s novel Karumbita: La patriota;
  • Call for Aguilera’s conviction to be quashed and for him not to be imprisoned.

Ms Brit Bildøen
Chair of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

COPY: The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs