Drunken video protest earns Cuban two years in jail

MIAMI — Juan Carlos Gonzalez Marcos, better known as Panfilo, was probably the noisiest of the regulars who gathered at the Villalon Park in Havana's Vedado neighborhood to drink a few.

Now he is, without a doubt, the most famous among them.

He was arrested and charged with "pre-criminal social endangerment'' after jumping into the frame of a video being filmed on the streets of Havana and shouting on camera that there was hunger in Cuba. He was sentenced to two years in prison.

"What we need here is a little bit of jama [Cuban Spanish slang for food]!'' Gonzalez shouted on camera after pushing the person being interviewed about reggaeton out of the video frame. "We're under fire here! Go ahead and tape me! Jama!''

The person being interviewed regained the attention of the cameraman for a few seconds, only to be pushed away once more by Gonzalez, 48, who went for another close-up. "We need food! We're hungry here! Listen to what Panfilo tells you from Cuba: food!''

The video made it to YouTube and received 400,000 views in no time.

It became popular on Hispanic television in Miami, made the cover of various magazines, ran as the lead story on websites, was reported by the island's independent media and the press abroad, and inspired video clips, songs and jokes about the deteriorating situation in Cuba.

Days later, a totally sober Gonzalez appeared on a new video taking back all he had said and done before. He mentioned that the police had visited him and that he was "under fire.''

A third video was played later on Miami's Channel 41-AmericaTeVé, showing him drunk again, dancing a rap on the street, and saying the police were going to put him "away.''

And they put him away. Gonzalez was finally arrested on Aug. 4.

Seven days later, in a closed-door trial, a municipal court sentenced him to two years in prison. The charge of precriminal social endangerment, which dates to 20th century's fascist and communist regimes, has been in use in Cuba since the 1960s and has even been applied to political opponents and human rights activists.

"This incident was unexpected and came as a surprise because the protagonist was not a political dissident nor a person trying to defend a position or gain popularity,'' said publicist Jorge Salcedo, a Boston resident promoting the international campaign Jama y Libertad (Jama and Freedom), which advocates Gonzalez's freedom.

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