Cuban Scholar José Azel Did Not Plagiarize My Work

By: Letter to the Editor - Jul 13, 2015, 9:15 am

EspañolThis letter is meant to make clear that I regret unjustly using the word plagiarism and other disparaging expressions in my correspondence regarding José Azel’s article “The Cuban Cargo Cult” on April 15. I should not have made such accusations, and I hereby retract same.

On April 15, I was alarmed and distressed when I incorrectly assumed that Azel knew of my blog prior to writing his own article. Given the proximity in time between the launch of my blog “Cuba Cargo/Cult” and Azel’s article “The Cuban Cargo Cult,” I jumped to the wrong conclusion. Having assumed that Azel knew of my blog, I overreacted and rushed to defend my blog and manuscript by contacting the Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies and Azel’s editors at El Nuevo Herald and the PanAm Post, who had published his article, and by posting inappropriate statements in social-media forums.

Azel has asked that I retract statements in correspondence I sent to Jaime Suchlicki at the ICCAS; to Myriam Marquez, editor at El Nuevo Herald; to Fergus Hodgson, editor at the PanAm Post, and also to individuals I copied in such correspondence. Some specific statements are:

“Azel’s indisputable recapitulation of my analysis”: I retract this statement and apologize for characterizing an interpretation as indisputable recapitulation.

“This is a violation of academic integrity, or at the very least a sign of sloppiness and disdain for scholarly or written practice.” Again, I retract this statement and apologize for characterizing my opinion and interpretation of facts and academic practices in this way. In particular, I apologize for having used the word “disdain” in speculating on Azel’s attitude to research.

“At the very worst it is plagiarism, at its very lightest, extreme sloppiness and disdain for the basic rules of research, or writerly rigor.”

I regret making these statements, as I have noted in the first lines of this letter. It was not appropriate or correct. I retract all statements and apologize.

The cargo-cult metaphor has been used in many contexts previously, including in textual references that touch on subjects like the Cuban exile imagination and the Cuban missile crisis, as Azel has noted. Although we both use the idea of an analogy between Cuba and the anthropological notion of “cargo cult,” to analyze Cuba in the present, Azel has crafted an argument that differs from my analysis.

In conclusion and once again, I regret the statements retracted above and apologize for them to Azel.

Ana Maria Dopico
Associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese
Blogger: Cuba Cargo/Cult
New York University
Manhattan, New York

Editor’s note: I appreciate this correspondence from Ana Maria Dopico, and will close the book on this matter.