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Journalist behind ‘El Secreto’ series refutes criticism from Selena’s father

Maria Celeste Arrarás, the Telemundo journalist and executive producer of the controversial series, "El Secreto de Selena," defended herself Thursday against an emotional statement released Sept. 4 on Q Productions Facebook page by Abraham Quintanilla, father of Tejano legend Selena.

Photo: Facebook / @MariaCelesteArraras

Maria Celeste Arrarás, the Telemundo journalist and executive producer of the controversial series, “El Secreto de Selena,” defended herself Thursday against an emotional statement released Sept. 4 on Q Productions Facebook page by Abraham Quintanilla, father of Tejano legend Selena.

Quintanilla denounced the series, which aired its second episode last Sunday on Telemundo. He attacked Arrarás personally as he accused her of being a false journalist whose series is filled with scandalous lies. Quintanilla said that Arrarás “mocks” and “dances on the grave of our beloved daughter Selena.”

The series, “El Secreto de Selena,” is based on a book by the same name written by Arrarás and published in 1997. The Quintanilla family also vehemently opposed the book and described it as an inaccurate and fictitious portrayal of their daughter.

In her defense, Arrarás told People en Español that her intent in responding is “not to start a war of words with Selena’s father,” but that she felt a response was warranted “to defend the integrity of my work.” She expresses that she “wouldn’t ever want to imagine the pain” the Quintanilla family feels and said she is “answering in the most polite possible way after all the horrible things he said about me.” Arrarás also posted on Instagram her response to Quintanilla’s statement.

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Es muy difícil y delicado tener que responder a las declaraciones del Sr. Abraham Quintanilla sobre mí persona porque, aunque hayan pasado tantos años, estoy de acuerdo en que el dolor por la muerte de una hija es algo de lo cuál un padre nunca se repone. Mi intención nunca ha sido ofender al Sr. Quintanilla, ni a su familia. Desde que comencé la investigación sobre el asesinato de Selena hace 24 años, como parte de una asignación especial que me fue encomendada, siempre he procurado hacerlo con seriedad y respeto. Tan es así, que después de que entrevisté a la asesina en el 1995, el propio Sr Quintanilla me llamó para pedirme que yo lo entrevistara en exclusiva. En esa ocasión, el comenzó diciéndome ante las cámaras que le pareció muy profesional la forma en que cuestioné y rebatí los testimonios de Yolanda Saldivar. Fue SU iniciativa llevar a cabo esa entrevista en reconocimiento a mi trabajo periodístico. “El Secreto de Selena”, que es una serie basada en el libro del mismo nombre que escribí , no favorece la versión de la asesina convicta, ni cosa que se parezca. Jamás haría una cosa así. Está basado en evidencia, en hechos documentados y en testimonios de testigos. Antes de que el libro fuese publicado, cuando aún el manuscrito estaba en mis manos y nadie lo había leído, el Sr. Quintanilla ya estaba amenazando con tomar acción legal para evitar su publicación. Esa amenaza nunca se materializó porque no se puede demandar por difamación a un trabajo que no difama. No dudo, que si el libro hubiese tenido alguna falla o mentira, el hubiese entablado un proceso legal en mi contra, así como lo hizo contra Chris Pérez, el viudo de Selena , quien escribió un bello libro sobre su relación con Selena y quiso llevar a la pantalla esa historia de amor. Chris NO pudo hacerlo porque el Sr. Quintanilla lo llevo ante los tribunales y se lo impidió. No soy ni la primera ni la última periodista que escribe un libro sobre una persona famosa que murió trágicamente, basado en los resultados de su investigación. (CONTINÚA en el post que le sigue).

A post shared by Maria Celeste (@mariacelestearraras) on

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“El Secreto” aired in its 13-episode entirety last year in Mexico and provoked Selena fans and especially her family as the series claims that Selena had “secrets” that Arrarás claims fans have a right to know. As her sources, the journalist cites documents from Selena’s murder trial, interviews with people close to Selena, and other sources. The so-called “revelations” include the implication of an unorthodox relationsip between Selena and the woman convicted of her murder as well as ties between Selena and a Mexican surgeon.

In his statement, written in Spanish, Quintanilla expresses how Arrarás has created a fictitious version of Selena’s life that tarnishes the image of his beloved daughter, who was an innocent person, full of life and who is no longer here to defend herself against the lies that the series asserts. Quintanilla said Arrarás’ main motivation is to profit both financially and from Selena’s fame.

Arrarás denies that her motive is money and points out how she donated the profits from the sale of her book about Selena for scholarships for students.

As far as Quintanilla’s attacks against Arrarás as a journalist, she reminds fans in her second Instagram post that shortly after Arrarás interviewed Selena’s killer in 1995, he requested an interview with Arrarás. Arrarás said Quintanilla even complimented her on her professionalism in how she handled her interview with the convicted murderer. The journalist also pointed out how Quintanilla threatened legal action against her book before its publication but the “threat was never materialized because you cannot sue for defamation a work that is not defamatory.” She also points out how Quintanilla kept Selena’s husband at the time of her death, Chris Perez, from creating a series based on his book “To Selena, With Love.” “Chris could not do it because Mr. Quintanilla took him to court and forbid it,” she said.

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Despite its extremely controversial nature, ratings show that “El Secreto de Selena” has captured the attention of viewers around the country. An upcoming Netflix series on Selena’s life, with the Quintanilla family’s blessing, is currently in the works, which Selena fans await with great anticipation. As Arrarás pointed out, a series by Chris Perez, was nixed, but the fact that so much interest in Selena and her life remains almost 25 years after her passing, says it all: Selena’s legacy lives on.

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