Lines of investigation

weekly package

The Weekly Package (Paquete Semanal) is a one-terabyte collection of media that is amassed weekly in Cuba and distributed throughout the country, through hand-to-hand file sharing. It is an independent alternative that has prospered under the complicit silence of Cuban society. Based mostly on piracy, it contains between 15,000 and 18,000 files, depending on the week and its distributor, and covers a wide variety of content including software, sports, soap operas, web shows, cartoons, manga, movies, TV shows, video games, music, video clips, musical and comedy shows, antivirus and application updates, as well as advertising for different national services. It is updated weekly throughout the country, with a price equivalent to 2 dollars, and its circulation is underground. Because it is not exactly cheap, several people usually associate for its purchase.

Weekly Package is often described as a solution to the lack of Internet or fast connections in Cuba, but it is more precise to observe that this phenomenon is the result of the progressive modification of entertainment media in the informal economy. At the beginning of the seventies of the last century, about ten years after the Cuban Revolution and the nationalization of all the mass media, an illicit economy began to flourish on the Island based on the rental of entertainment materials that escaped state regulations.

The romantic or western mini-novels, by authors such as Corín Tellado, were the first materials that were circulated clandestinely by businessmen. Acquiring the books was a constant challenge, and these businesses discovered that working with equivalent entrepreneurs in other cities was the best alternative to obtain new copies. This was the beginning of a national black market network for the exchange and sale of entertainment materials. As the format of available media evolved: first to magazines, then to VHS cassettes and Betacam videotapes, and finally to CDs, VCDs, and DVDs, this network provided access to circulating media that was on the fringes of the media. of government control. In this way, the Weekly Package is the result of the gradual development of these networks and the illicit trade, already naturalized, of training materials for more than four decades.

With its virtues and defects, it is a medium in which audiovisual products of very heterogeneous quality are found; you find banal and commercial content, but also the risky ones, those that open the gaze to unknown worlds and innovative television trends. Its diversity is as wide as the spectrum of consumption it intends to satisfy. The content structure of the Weekly Package shows a kind of curatorial intelligence, which goes after certain contextual events. Rather than serving as a channel for third-party content, the Package “produces” its own content. Through such content one accesses another country, one that functions under the demands of creativity and imagination.

Copyright is an issue that, in Cuba, although it has raised questions, is not yet at the public peak of the debate. Piracy is legal, accepted and practiced by the State itself. It is the viable alternative to access information in a country that suffers and takes advantage of the margins that the economic and commercial embargo imposed on the Island by the US government yields. This phenomenon is the result of decades of ingenuity and organization of informal networks. The Weekly Package is the most significant popular cultural phenomenon in the Cuban alternative digital context.

27 Archives of the research line