Isbel Díaz Torres
HAVANA TIMES – I buy Cuba’s weekly TV series, music and software package on a regular basis. In my opinion, some of its contents are valuable in more than one sense. That said, there are a series of factors behind this phenomenon that have truly piqued my curiosity:
1. The package contains an enormous amount of information that must be downloaded every week, something that requires more than a handful of broad-band Internet connections.
2. The package is available throughout the country.
3. The materials included in the package are divided into categories and sub-categories, revealing a sophisticated organization mechanism, not the simple practice of placing files in folders.
4. The continuity of series, reality shows, soap operas and other materials is strictly maintained.
5. Extreme care is put into preparing the subtitles. Every week, subtitles for materials included in the previous package that had some problem or were simply missing are included in the new package. This suggests a very effective feedback mechanism that is all the more difficult to create in a society with virtually no Internet connectivity.
6. Films included in one package are included in subsequent packages at a lower resolution (first in HD, then in high quality and then in VCD quality). This involves considerable time devoted to file conversions.
7. The original film poster is used for every film included in the package.
8. With the exception of soap operas, films and TV series, all other materials (and there are many) include ads for Cuban businesses, shown during or at the end of the video. Including these contents and having new episodes ready every week with them suggests additional editing and conversion time.
9. Not only the most recent episodes but entire seasons of different TV series and soaps are included in the package. Considerable storage capacity is required for this.
10. The vast Cuban and international music compilations and the constant updating of these contents also presuppose work that requires more than a handful of people and reveal that those who prepare the package have direct links to official and alternative record labels in Cuba.
11. The software installation files, applications and games also suggest considerable Internet search capacities. It is becoming more and more difficult to update one’s anti-virus software without being placed on a black list, but those included in the package see to skirt such dangers effectively.
12. The package includes materials produced in Cuban State institutions that one is hard pressed to find anywhere else (the adventures series Los papaloteros is a case in point).
These are some of the things that make one raise an eyebrow and ask ourselves: in this, our island:
How is such a rigorous and efficient degree of organization possible?
Who has the technological (nearly unlimited storage capacity, broadband Internet, etc.) and human resources needed to undertake this?
How can such a juicy illegal activity that involves the traffic of information (information is power, as we know) survive for so long, at a time when the Cuban State has shut down all 3D home theaters?
If the resources for this enterprise are coming from abroad, how is it that such “aid” hasn’t been discontinued, as were the activities through which people like Alan Gross brought satellite dishes and other devices into the country?
My thesis is simple: the package, the same package that appears to compete with Cuban television, is in actuality a Cuban government project, possibly developed in one of those mysterious agencies in the Ministry of the Interior, hidden from the public.
Of course, I won’t leave things there. I will explain this thesis in Part II of this post.