Digital Archaeology and El Paquete Semanal

Back when our foreign policy was more generally oriented around becoming better neighbors, I had the chance to visit Cuba a few times.

I was part of a quasi-diplomatic delegation, kind of a junior ranger State Department, a privatized mix of tech dweebs, investors sniffing after policy changes, and government types in various stages of obfuscation and denial.

Between visits with officials and community groups, meeting ordinary humble Cubans and the less-than-ordinary elevated Cubans (the ones trying to swap mansions and art for Bitcoin and boltholes in Miami) I had a chance to take a side quest to track down el paquete semanal.

El paquete semanal (the weekly package) is a 1TB folder on a hard drive, curated by enterprising Cubans, passed hand-to-hand in the darker part of the island’s grey economy.

In that big, hot hunk of drive you can find pretty much all the pop culture you might need, from Game of Thrones to all three games of the latest Marlins-Reds series.

As with most things Cuban, there’s a lot just a little deeper.

When I finally got my hands on a copy of the paquete, secreted home on a Lacie Rugged, I took a few months and did a deeper analysis than I’d seen before. You can find that, and some homegrown Cuban commercial content if you’re interested, here.

Read some of the reaction to my paquete research here.

Illustration by Baimu for Yorokubo.