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‘My Backpack’ is the program created by the Youth Club to counter the success of the Weekly Packet (screen capture).

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miami, 22 December 2016 – “My Backpack,” which was created by the Youth Club to counter the influence of the Weekly Packet, will launch this coming December 27, with a wide variety of materials about the recently deceased former president Fidel Castro.

The idea of including materials about Castro started in the Youth Club network in Artemisa, a province in western Cuba, according to the local newspaper, El Artemiseño.

According to Lisandra Garcia, institutional spokesperson for the Provincial Directorate of the Youth Club of Computing and Electronics, the special Backpack includes a catalog for easy access to all content, with “historical content” games, “poems and TV shows.”

The catalog “will contain allegorical music, celebrity interviews, series like Memoirs of a Grandfather and 90 Reasons, the route of the recent “Freedom Caravan,” taken by Fidel Castro’s ashes between Havana and Santiago de Cuba, the political event in the Plaza, documentaries about Fidel’s impact on sports, health, education, culture… and in different countries,” says the newspaper.

“This program (My Backpack) is being created at the central level in Havana and distributed to each of the provinces, so if Artemisa makes a special about Fidel, it will be distributed throughout the island,” said a lab technician from a Youth Club who did not want to be identified for fear of reprisals.

The lab technician also said that the purpose for which My Backpack was created is still far from completion. “Most people prefer the Weekly Packet because it is more fun and has more options,” he adds.

“The Packet is the internet of the poor, but My Backpack is still far from being done, it is like the internet of those who don’t even have the one for the poor,” he added.

Due to the strong ideological slant of programming on national television, the Weekly Packet — considered one of the largest sources of alternative employment on the island — has become indispensable in Cuban homes. It has been tolerated, more than accepted, by the powers-that-be, who on occasion have intervened to eliminate any kind of political content in these informal distribution networks.

In the days following Fidel Castro’s death, many of the audio-visual products distributed by private individuals omitted any critical reference to the figure of the former president.

“We have to compete with ‘Our Latin Beauty’, with concrete proposals, with ideas, with the coordinated work of teachers, artists, editors, journalists… giving people tools so they do not get ripped off,” said the minister of culture, Abel Prieto, referring to the Weekly Packet in April 2014 at the Eighth Congress of the Writers and Artists Union of Cuba (UNEAC).

“We have not yet succeeded in creating the cultured and free people [envisioned by] José Martí,” he added.


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