THE BLOG

Cuban Bloggers Win Another Victory: This One for "Panfilo"

2009-09-18-panfilorostro.jpg I woke to news of the transfer of Panfilo from prison to a psychiatric clinic, perhaps to start his detox. On the list of victories won--which are still few and limited--for Cuban civil society over the last year, we can add the release of this humble man from his cell. On the short list of accomplishments, there should also be the freeing of Gorki Aguila over a year ago, and the decision not to apply a resolution that prevented Cubans from connecting to the Internet in hotels.

I think the evolution of what happened in the case of "Panfilo" has been accomplished by the work of those who led the campaign, Food and Freedom, and who just yesterday offered three thousand signatures calling for his release. We must also thank the numerous international media who helped to call attention to the unjust two year sentence given to Juan Carlos Gonzalez. The alternative blogosphere--as expected--helped to push the wall, which seemed to grow stronger on that day when they imprisoned someone who was merely demanding food.

In any case, the blunder of charging an inoffensive neighborhood drunk with pre-criminal dangerousness won't be forgotten that easily. Now we have to hope that he can return home, have access to that food that every human being deserves and the freedom of expression that allows him to say what he feels in front of the camera, without being hauled in front of a prosecutor. If in some way the delivery of the document "Send a Letter!" to a representative of Juanes has served to open the bars to Panfilo, then there is one more reason to applaud this concert on September 20. It is too bad that we have to wait for the famous to visit us to pull back the bolts, but regardless of this detail, we count the triumph as ours.

You already know: if you are going to bring something to celebrate the release of Panfilo, bring water, not alcohol.

Translator's note: Panfilo is the nickname given to Juan Carlos Gonzalez, a Cuban on the island who stepped into the frame during the filming of a video. He launched into a drunken rant, shouting, "Grub! Grub! What we need is food! There is tremendous hunger in Cuba! Grub! Grub!" The video went viral on YouTube and Gonzales was subsequently arrested and sentenced to two years in prison for "pre-criminal dangerousness." A campaign--Jama y Libertad--(Food and Freedom) was launched worldwide to free him.

Yoani's blog, Generation Y, can be read here in English translation.