Panfilo, the famous Cuban character at the center of the island’s popular TV show Vivir del Cuento, visited Miami Thursday to promote the launch of his show on a new Cuban television channel in the United States.
The Cuban personality was here courtesy of the Dish Network, a U.S. based satellite TV company that has created the CubaMax channel, which staged the event at the Olympia Theater in downtown Miami to advertise their line-up of Cuban-produced telenovelas, movies, talent shows and other content.
Posters with slogans like "From Havana to Little Havana" and "De Cuba a La Yuma" were scattered around the lobby, and singers from “Sonando en Cuba,” the island’s version of The Voice, filled the theater with powerful music during rehearsal.
But Panfilo, who got a burst of attention in El Norte when President Obama appeared on Vivir del Cuento in advance of his March visit to the island, was the closest thing to a celebrity on hand.
Actor Luis Silva, who plays Panfilo, created a small buzz when he emerged on Flagler Street, shuffling along as his hapless character, corduroy hat pulled low over grey-colored hair, faded pants belted high to show crumbling once-white sneakers and carrying a grubby shopping bag.
Rehearsal for the show had run hours late, and a crowd that included congressional candidate Joe Garcia was already filing in for a reception. The host of Telemundo’s Acceso Total, Abel Hernandez, was sweating as he waited for an interview in front of the theater. But Silva and his director seemed reluctant to take advantage of the American-style hype, insisting that he only speak in character and with Vivir del Cuento’s three other actor/characters.
"I’m very happy to be here," Panfilo said a few minutes later, urging Cuban-Americans and "of course the gringos, the Americans" to watch CubaMax. Asked what he’d say to Donald Trump — since he’d already talked to President Obama — Cuba’s quintessentially confused character seemed stumped.
"Trump? Oye, we’ll teach him to play dominoes. If he turns out to be president, maybe he’ll build a little hotel there [in Cuba.]"