A 26-Year-Old Has Created the Underground Netflix of Cuba
Cubans have found a way around the Cuban government’s strangle hold on digital media via a DIY subscription service called El Paquete Semanal. A new report from Vox shows how with very limited Internet access, Cubans are able to get their hands on the latest movies, music, and television for only a few bucks a week.
El Paquete Semanal is one Cuban’s middle finger to the digital media embargo in Cuba.
For more than 50 years, Cubans have essentially been cut off from the Western World, especially when it comes to movies, music, and television. Imagine having The Walking Dead banned from your TV.
A group of people in the US and Cuba are making it possible for Cubans to get their Game of Thrones and Beyonce fix without the Internet.
And they are taking that content and distributing it to all of their subscribers around the country. Yes, they have subscribers just like Netflix and Hulu.
All the movies, songs, and shows are put on a hard drive and replicated so the weekly entertainment can be hand-delivered throughout Cuba.
El "paquete semanal" es un fenómeno clandestino que comparte información y entretenimiento La TV queda en el olvido. pic.twitter.com/YCZTkmHEHk
— Llamada Real (@cuballamada) March 26, 2015
Credit: @cuballamada / Twitter
All the top songs, new movies in theaters, and the latest episodes of hit TV shows are bundled together until they have 1 terabyte of entertainment to give to their subscribers. These people seriously DGAF about Cuba’s digital media laws or international piracy laws.
And this shit isn’t like the bootleg DVDs you might buy down the street. Everything is high quality and full HD.
Being a member costs you about $2 USD a week, less than a movie ticket.
It is such a lucrative business that Cuban media is now paying for subscriptions in El Paquete Semanal.
“We exist on the Internet but the Paquete Semanal has such a wide range of distributors and it’s sold all across the country,”Antoinette Duquesne, a writer for the Cuban magazine Vistar told BBC. “So, this is the best way for us to connect with our audience.”
Subscribers can pick and choose what they want to watch/listen to but many just get the full terabyte of entertainment.
“I can copy whatever I want,” Ana Lauren of Havana, Cuba told BBC. “If I don’t want to copy music this week I don’t have to. I only copy the things and shows that I want to use this week.”
There are small groups specializing in different entertainment media, gathering the latest and hottest stuff worth watching and listening to.
They even have it down to a science so they can deliver the most current entertainment possible.
El Paquete Semanal has given some Cuban youths a chance for much needed and hard to find income in the communist regime.
And it also serves as an underground Craigslist where Cubans can get and exchange goods and services without the constant barrage from the Cuban government regulating the amount of good they are allowed.
But who is the person in charge? He goes by the name Dany Paquete.
I see what you did there, Señor Paquete. #clever
The 26-year-old has become something of a digital media kingpin on the Caribbean island.
His business model has been so successful that a rival business offering the same service has emerged in Cuba. Paquete welcomes the competition to push them to progress.
It’s impossible to know how many Cubans use El Paquete Semanal, but the service touches the whole country.
And if someone doesn’t use the service, they definitely know about it.