July 29, 2021

Rectification of Benigno Valdés Díaz

Rectification of Benigno Valdés Díaz

In its edition of Monday, April 16, 2018, eldiario.es published an article entitled “A PP Counselor [sic] in the Competition regulator [sic] presented himself as a Professor at the University of Comillas-ICAI [sic]  without being one.” The article contains several news that are not true and affect me personally.

(1) That for many years I have presented myself, and have been presentesd by others, as Professor at the Pontifical University Comillas-ICAI-ICADE without being one. The truth is that I am Full Professor since June 29, 1999, which is why I I introduce myself and am introduced by others as Professor of Macroeconomic Theory and Policy at the Pontifical University Comillas-ICAI-ICADE. It is public information that the University certifies to any citizen who requests it, therefore it also would have been provided to the editor, had he requested it from the University before publishing the article.

(2) That I am a “Counselor of the PP political party”. A Counselor I am (of the CNMC), but not with that political affiliation. I have absolutely nothing against the PP party (on the contrary, I appreciate that it proposed me for the office of “Councelor” (Member of the Board) not being myself a member of the party, a gesture that the public can assess as it deems appropriate). But in politics I exhausted my ration of militancy at a very early age, and little trouble would have cost the editor to know my political whereabouts, had he tried to find out.

(3) The editor also states that I am like [someone I’m not acquainted with], “a compulsive plagiarist”. Thus without offering any factual support for such a serious assertion (emphatically: the editor could not have gathered any). On that basis, it is reasonable to doubt that he understands what a plagiarist is and knows the weight and seriousness of that term for the scientific community. Fortunately, in the field of academic economics, we all know each other. But that does not happen outside of it, and therein lies the seriousness of writing things like that without measuring what is being said.

(4) The article also states that one cannot be a Professor at the Pontifical University Comillas-ICAI-ICADE because that name is “reserved for the public university” and “Comillas is private”. That assertion is a cause of perplexity in the university community: The public university does not have the exclusive right to use that entry in the dictionary of the RAE.

In Comillas-ICAI-ICADE nobody finds the supposed “official spokesman” referred to in the article. Few people can act as such and none of them ignores, as is the case of the so-called “spokesman”, the General Statutes, approved by Decree of the Holy See, Art. 58, 1 and 2; the General Regulation, Art. 60, 1-a; and the Concordatary nature of the University.

In order to expand the reader’s information on this matter, it is worth pointing out the extension of use of the term to the following institutions: Pontifical University of Salamanca (Article 46 of its General Statutes); Deusto University (Art. 74); University of Navarra (Art. 22, 1 and 2); University San Pablo-CEU (Art. 62, 1 and 2) and Ramón Llull University (Art. 40 et seq.)

All this information is public, hence the editor would have found it easy to contrast the [des]information provided by his mysterious “spokesperson” before publishing the article.

(5) Through the day itself, April 16, and after having contacted with the editor (I contacted with him, not the other way round as it would have been expected of an editor before publishing the article), the headline (and in part the article’s  content) was changed: It went from “A PP counselor [sic] in the Competition regulator [sic] presented himself as a Professor at Comillas University-ICAI [sic] without being one”  to  “The Competition Commission [sic] denies one of his counselors the title of Professor and downgrades him to professor”.

The new headline is also not true. The highest governing body of the CNMC is its Board, and in no way has the Board rectified my CV on the Commission’s website. The Board does not devote itself to such trifles. I myself wrote the text that appears in my CV four years ago. I put “professor” instead of “Tenured Full Professor”  because at that moment I thought it was appropriate. It would not have been too laborious for the editor to check , before publishing the article, who wrote my CV, if I (as is natural) or “the organism” [sic].

(6) In the article there are other elements whose intend I do not clearly grasp. These are several statements that could be of informative interest if the news reported in sections 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 above were true; but not being so, they are mere  opinions orphan of factual support and may, precisely for that reason, induce in the public opinion a mistaken idea about the character (that is, about me). To alleviate this effect as much as possible, the Supreme Court (STS 376/2017, of June 14), resorting to the doctrine of the Constitutional Court (STC 99/2011, of June 20), establishes that the rectification must operate as a “complement to the information that is offered to the public,” to “repair what by omission of the facts reported may constitute interference in the right to honor.” To that end, I will point out the following:

(a) On my activity as a member of the CNMC Board the editor states that “[…] During his term in the CNMC, Valdes has distinguished himself for his disenting votes against many of the decisions of the body. He is free to think so: the description is entirely entirely subjective; however, the public opinion would have had a more complete information adding the following: “[… disenting votes] that in the referred cases have found confirmation in successive rulings  by either the National Court, the Supreme Court, or both”. It would have been easy for the editor to also have obtain that information, had he done some prior research on the matter.

(b) Regarding my job as Director of IMDEA Social Sciences, the editor states the following: “[…] a research institute with pretensions of world prominence and in the end scarce results “. As an opinion, it is his, though once again without offering any factual support to back it up; hence, as information, he could have offered to the public opinion a more learned assessment, based on facts, had he investigated the matter. It would have served him well to read Clara Eugenia Núñez’ book Universidad y ciencia en (Editorial Gadir, 2013). There he would have found a qualified apprisal of IMDEA Social Sciences’ achievements (while the Institute lasted).

(c) The article also “informs” that I have held  “well-paid public positions for more than a decade  […] The current year’s salary will be […]” Again, this paragraph could have informative interest had the news reported in sections 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 above been true; but not being so, it constitutes a superfluous paragraph. It is appropriate that the reader evaluates it in light of my academic and professional curriculum.

Benigno Valdés

Professor of Economics, Universidad Pontificia Comillas ICAI-ICADE