Alex, 28, rides his bike all over a neighborhood in Havana delivering el paquete. It doesn’t matter that there’s a “stay home” order in place—he goes out wearing a mask and carrying a chloride solution. His delivery is now more precious than ever precisely because of the quarantine: Alex provides his customers with information and entertainment. He delivers the Cuban “offline internet.”
“I have almost doubled my clients since the lockdown started,” he says.
El paquete (“the package”) began around 2008. Today, it’s a hard drive with nearly a terabyte of downloaded magazines, films, music, games, and soap operas (even from Turkey). Most clients pay about $2 or $3 for the whole thing. You can find there the latest Hollywood releases, Jimmy Fallon’s show, Rachel Maddow’s, Korean dramas, and any popular Hispanic or American TV show you can think of. It’s digital content managed through human infrastructure. If you don’t want to buy everything on the drive, you can even pay for a certain amount of episodes by unit or data weight, as if you were buying apples, cash only. Then someone like Alex transfers the content to your own devices.
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