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Cuban to be jailed for complaining about food shortage

Last Updated: Friday, September 11, 2009 - 13:35

Havana: A court of appeals in Havana has upheld the two-year sentence handed down to a man who had protested before television cameras about hunger in Cuba, a dissident told EFE.
The court ruled that Juan Carlos Gonzalez Marcos, 48, committed the crime of being a "social danger”, said Richard Rossello of the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation who attended the hearing as an observer.

The sentence may not be appealed and Gonzalez, known as "Panfilo", will spend his two years behind bars in the Toledo 2 prison, located on the outskirts of Havana.

The incident occurred in July, when an evidently intoxicated Panfilo interrupted the taping of a documentary on urban music in Cuba and shouted: "There`s tremendous hunger here. What we need is `jama` (a Cuban slang word for food)."

His outburst might have passed unnoticed if someone had not posted the images on YouTube, where more than 400,000 people viewed them, and from that point forward support groups began to spring up for Panfilo.

Upon seeing the commotion his remarks had caused, Panfilo retracted them in a later video in which he asserted: "I didn`t know who filmed me, and I didn`t do it with any aim" in mind, but that did not stop authorities from arresting him and putting him on trial August 12 in a closed-door hearing.

On Thursday, his defence attorney told the appeals court that his client was suffering from alcoholism and therefore he asked that he be placed in an institution for rehabilitation, but his arguments did not find favour with the court.


First Published: Friday, September 11, 2009 - 13:35

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