10 sept. 2009

Take a stand! For the release of Pánfilo. For freedom of expression in Cuba

"We need food—we're starving! This is Panfilo from Cuba telling you: food!" For saying these words on a Havana street, the Cuban citiizen Juan Carlos González, "Pánfilo", is serving two years in prison.

"Jama!," food in Cuban slang, his insistent cry in an amateur video that is already a YouTube sensation, wasn't a call to political action, and Juan Carlos González isn't a dissident, opponent of the regime or human rights activist. He's a regular guy without much education and no particular social position or agenda, who, after having a few too many drinks, stood in front of a camera to tell it like he saw it. He didn't advocate social change, civil liberties or human rights. He just dared to exercise one of them.

The persecution of Juan Carlos González by the Cuban government —he was sentenced under the "pre-criminal dangerousness"  law codified in the absurd Title XI of the Cuban penal code—is a dose of fear administered to us all as a warning that the Cuban "street" (public spaces) still belongs to the "revolutionaries", those men who gained power half a century ago and still cling to it today.

But fear hasn't solved nor will it solve Cuba's problems. Nor the lack of "jama", nor the lack of future. There can be no solution to Cuba's problems without respect for the basic freedoms of all its citizens.

By responding to the abuse with solidarity and to collective intimidation with the full exercising of our own rights, we demand the release of Pánfilo and freedom of expression for all Cubans.

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