Free Panfilo!


Who hasn't, after an evening (or afternoon) of aggressive alcohol consumption, wandered around town looking for some delicious, greasy, cheap nosh? Last month, Juan Carlos Gonzalez Marcos, a hard-drinking resident of Havana who goes by the name Panfilo, knocked backed a few hundred beers and decided to tell a nearby foreign film crew that food is scarce in the communist nation. When the video was posted on YouTube, Panfilo's troubles began:

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!"

Here's the video:

In true Stalinist fashion, Panfilo was forced to perform in this ritual retraction video:

Not contrite enough, apparently. Gonzalez was arrested on August 7.

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.