Redefining Piracy through Cuba’s Film and Internet Distribution Platform

El Paquete Semanal and the Case of MiHabanaTV


  • Michelle Leigh Farrell Fairfield University, Fairfield, CT, USA


Cuba, Internet, paquete semanal, Audiovisual Production, Distribution Platform, MiHabanaTV, Emerging Voices


 Despite the Cuban government’s resistance to recognize legal independent status for Cuban audiovisual artists, coupled with some of the lowest official Internet rates in the world, Cubans have made an effective alternative system of distribution known as the paquete semanal. The paquete, an offline, somewhat legal, weekly distribution platform providing one terabyte of diverse domestic and global films, television programming, and offline Internet content, has made international headlines as a “subversive” challenge to Cuba’s centralized control through piracy. While the paquete tests the Cuban state’s influence, in this article I analyze how the paquete actually continues with and expands upon the Cuban government’s on-going practice of piracy. Building on Ramon Lobato’s exploration of the “Six Faces of Piracy,” I examine the paquete’s role in redefining the Cuban government’s use of piracy as resistance to a contemporary platform leading to daily access and increased domestic production. As such I examine the changing role of the paquete from international content re-distributor to primary distributor of domestic material made specifically for the paquete as is the case with Cuba’s first alternative television channel, MiHabanaTV, founded in 2016. With a close reading of the made-for-paquete MiHabanaTV and their seventh episode interviewing one team of the behind-the-scenes paquete creators, I show that an exploration of the paquete reveals one of the many ways that Cuba is not as isolated as it may seem and the paquete is not as anti-revolutionary as it appears.

Author Biography

Michelle Leigh Farrell, Fairfield University, Fairfield, CT, USA

Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese

Department of Modern Languages and Literatures

Michelle Farrell is an assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese at Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT, USA. In her research she explores contemporary cinema from Cuba, Venezuela and Brazil. Dr. Farrell has particular interest in the relationships between state cinema institutions and emerging voices in changing audiovisual landscapes. She has written about the Cuban young and digital audiovisual generation known as the nuevos realizadores, contemporary digital literacy campaigns, and the tension between independent and state funded cinema. Dr. Farrell is also active as a committee member of the LASA Film Studies Section and has served as a film juror for The Havana Film Festival NYC, The Cinema Tropical annual film awards, and the The Americas Film Festival New York. She is a recipient of the American Association of University Women Summer Publication Grant as well as the American Philosophical Society Franklin Grant to conduct research in Cuba. 






How to Cite

Farrell, M. L. (2018). Redefining Piracy through Cuba’s Film and Internet Distribution Platform: El Paquete Semanal and the Case of MiHabanaTV. A Contracorriente: Una Revista De Estudios Latinoamericanos, 16(3), 403–426. Retrieved from



Articles / Artículos