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Warhol P: I see myself as an observant person and I like to write with sincerity what I think and live first hand. I’m shy and of few words; thus it’s difficult for me to engage in conversation. For that reason, my best tool for communicating is writing. I live in Marianao, Havana and am 40 years old.

Long Live USB Drives in Cuba

February 26, 2014 | Print Print |

Warhol P

Photo: wikipedia.org

HAVANA TIMES — We’re off to get this week’s TV show package! “Oh, the joy,” many of my neighbors exclaim. I include myself among them, to be completely honest. USB drives have proven immensely useful from the time we’ve been able to afford them, as a means of storing or exchanging information, documents and videos of every sort.

Packages include new releases, soap operas (Mexican and Brazilian ones, which are very popular), documentaries, TV series, recent music videos produced in Cuba or abroad, software, anti-virus updates and fashion and showbiz magazines.

Without the need of an Internet connection, one can access an up-to-date list of classifieds published by Revolico, useful for anyone who wishes to purchase something or simply see where the prices of different appliances are at.

In today’s Cuba, a person who doesn’t own a DVD player and a USB drive is lost – even though Cuban television has now more channels and has begun tests to set digital television in motion, it is still a long way from satisfying the population (which, by the looks of it, will never be entirely pleased with the menu at home).

Our soap operas compete with one another in terms of badness. When one ends, another one just as bad starts.

Many people prefer to choose what they watch at home, on a computer or on television.

Package prices continue to be fairly reasonable: 50 Cuban Pesos (around US $ 2) for 80 to 500 gigabytes of materials, 10 Cuban Pesos for 8 – 16 gigabytes (a USB drive’s worth of materials).

Those in the business of selling these materials also offer a home delivery service. Some consumers go to the home of the suppliers and put together a package in accordance with their preferences; other suppliers rent out hard drives for three to four days. This last service can cost a little over 4.00 Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC).

For the time being, this is just perfect: I am happy to be able to go to the home of a supplier near my home, and filling up my USB drive with these materials fills me with joy.

I only hope this business continues to boom and something similar to what happened to 3D home theaters doesn’t happen here. Those home theaters had many of us hooked and, after they were shut down, we were left like kids who go to a party and want to continue eating sweets afterwards.


What's your opinion?

  • Moses Patterson

    I continue to marvel at how adaptable Cubans are. The expanded use of flash drives is a result of Cubans adapting to the lack of email access. The last time I was in Cuba, I learned from a Cuban how to send a ‘tuit’ on twitter without using the internet. Amazing!

  • CUBAQUS

    The most creative use of a USB stick I saw was a “portable” file sharing and discussion group inserted in a network.
    The force of the internet and data distribution in Cuba can not be overestimated.
    Local wireless networks give Cubans access to internet for about a CUC per hour.
    Indirect mail systems enable access to and distribution of Yahoo and Gmail accounts.

  • http://www.BobMichaels.org Bob Michaels

    I have a very good grasp of the communications problems, data access problems, and economic problems. Trust me.

    However, I am bothered by the fact that no one in Cuba ever, never ever, thinks about the fact that this is almost always someone else’s intellectual property that they are stealing. The concept that there is nothing wrong with stealing someone’s movie, TV show, software, or games will someday come back to haunt Cuban economic development after many current problems are resolved.

    FWIW, I have purchased and own the legal license to use every piece of software on my computer as well as every movie and song in my extensive library with one exception. That is a copy of Fresa y Chocolate. That one is like taking a piece of fruit from a bag full that someone stole from my tree in my back yard.

    • Griffin

      Given how the entire Cuban Revolution was founded on the principle of stealing somebody else’s property, and denying the people their rights, it should not come as a surprise that the concept of property rights, especially intellectual property, is not respected in Cuba.