It all started when an undeniably inebriated Juan Carlos González Marcos, better known by the nickname Pánfilo (Spanish for, among other things, "dimwitted"), interrupted what appears to be an interview related to reggaetón to give the world a piece of his mind on Cuba, the lack of food there, and the system that denies its people decent jama (a Cuban slang term for food... which can also take the verb form jamar, which means "to eat").
Thanks perhaps to liquid courage, the video went viral. At least in Cuban American circles. Pánfilo was a household name and on his way to becoming the face of Cuba's destitute. In the aftermath, Pánfilo recorded more videos, doing little dances, and giving testimonials about the need for food, the lack of freedom, and even making predictions that he would end up in a prison cell for having expressed his discontent.
But he also did this sober interview, where he never retracts his statements, but does give the impression that he never had any political objective in making them and probably hadn't made them had it not been for the curda. Further, he says in this video that he wasn't looking for trouble and would prefer not to have his image become a political tool.
By the time this video had gone viral, Pánfilos drunken predictions had become a sobering reality. He was sentenced to a two-year prison term for "pre-criminal dangerousness," a catch-all charge the Cuban regime uses to avoid such bourgeois nuisances as evidence and just cause. It's hard to make the argument that he was arrested for anything other than his dissent.
Advocates for human rights have a dilemma to face:
- On the one hand, Pánfilo was pretty explicit about not wanting to be the poster boy of a political campaign.
- On the other, he's since been put in prison, and that's an injustice that shouldn't be ignored.
There are other sites, social networking site groups, etc. as well.
The question is: Where is the balance between respecting that Pánfilo never wanted to make trouble for himself by being seen as an activist and making sure that we're not ignoring the abuse of his right to speak his mind — even when under the influence?
I don't know that I have that answer, but I'd like to hear what you have to say. So go on... discuss in the comments section. Hopefully this will generate some creative solutions to a delicate problem.