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Juan Carlos González Marcos, aka "Pánfilo," may be the unlikeliest of political prisoners.
He was not an independent journalist or librarian or human rights activist. He was just a man, a street person, really, just trying to survive in Castro's Cuba.
But when his struggle hit the Internet, with this simple but painful — and probably drunken —pleadings for food, he became a symbol of everything that is wrong with life on the island. The revolution that has promised so much in its 50 years in power, cannot even meet its citizens' basic needs.
As is usually the case in Cuba today, truth-telling like Pánfilo's cannot be tolerated by the regime, which is why it recently sentenced him to 2 years in prison after finding that he was a "pre-criminal social danger."
That is why Pánfilo is deserving of the status of "political prisoner," because he exposed one of the many great lies about the Castro dictatorship, and because that dictatorship then punished him accordingly.
Another great piece in English about Pánfilo was posted last week at SunSentinel.com.
And here''s more from Pánfilo:
UPDATED, Aug. 26, 2009. There's an international campaign calling for Pánfilo's release. Learn more, here.
UPDATED, Sept. 17, 2009. Pánfilo has been released from prison.