75 UNGA: Statement by the delegation of Cuba at the general debate of the 43rd session of the Committee on Information. New York, 26 April 2021

Mr. Chairman,

First and foremost, allow me to express our congratulations on your appointment as Chairman of the Committee, which I extend to the distinguished elected members of the Board. I reiterate our best wishes for their success in performing their duties.

We also wish to thank the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco, for the active work over the last two years as Chairman of the Committee and the outgoing board members.

Our delegation associates itself with the statements delivered by the Republic of Guinea on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. Likewise, we endorse the statement by Colombia on behalf of the Group of Friends of Spanish (GAE).

We welcome Ms. Melissa Fleming, Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Global Communications, and we appreciate her valuable remarks.

Mr. Chairman,

After analyzing the report submitted by the Secretary-General on strategic communications services, our delegation would like to acknowledge the serious communication work carried out by the Organization in the aftermath of the pandemic. The United Nations information centers played an integral role in formulating crisis communication strategies related to COVID-19, and participated in the Verified campaign, which has reached over one billion people all over the world by providing public health information and guidance to combat misinformation; which was the centerpiece of the Secretariat´s broadest communication response initiative on COVID-19.

We appreciate the incorporation of the section on Multilingualism, which recognizes the importance of providing the public with information on COVID-19 prevention measures in their regional languages and the need to reach the most vulnerable populations. In this endeavor, the work of United Nations information centers has been essential.

We ratify our support for the Special Information Programme on the Question of Palestine, which makes it possible to provide training to Palestinian journalists.

The Fourth International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism has begun. It is the responsibility of the Department of Global Communications and its network of United Nations Information Centers to publicize the work of the UN in this important area and to promote greater awareness of the need to end colonialism.

With respect to the news service report, it is noted that the Department has maintained its strong commitment to multilingualism in all its platforms and has ensured that the use of new and emerging technologies does not overshadow the use of traditional communication tools, such as radio, television and video, in formats that facilitate access by smaller broadcasters. 

It is also worth mentioning the increase in visits by various audiences to the United Nations website, due in part to the context created by COVID-19. This demonstrates the existence of a public eager for information and its confidence in the United Nations.

Mr. Chairman,

It is regrettable that, in the century of new information and communication technologies, illiteracy is still a reality all over the world. Globally, this scourge affects 773 million young people and adults, who lack basic reading and writing skills. This gap has increased since 2020, with the situation triggered by COVID-19.

Mr. Chairman,

Cuba is advancing in the informatization of its society, which is a priority of the Cuban State. The ICT sector is part of the strategic objectives within the Economic and Social Development Plan until 2030, which includes connectivity and Internet access. We are working intensively on the development of telecommunications infrastructure and services.

In the midst of the difficult and long period of tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, new advances were made in the field of information and communications for the benefit of the population, the economy and local governments.

These advances were possible thanks to the political will of the Cuban government, despite the unjust, unilateral and illegal economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States government against Cuba, which persists and is tightened with new actions such as the implementation of Title III of the Helms Burton Act, which has a negative impact on development programs in this area.

In the last four years, there has been a progressive and systematic increase in the aggressiveness of the US policy against our people and all sovereign States that maintain or attempt to establish economic, commercial and financial relations with Cuba. More than 240 measures implemented during Donald Trump's administration against Cuba, 50 of them adopted in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, illustrate the particular viciousness against the Cuban people and government.

From April 2019 to March 2020, the blockade has caused losses to Cuba to the tune of over $5.5 billion. For the first time, the total amount of economic damage exceeded, in a single year, the barrier of $5 billion.

In that same period, in the information technology and communications sector alone, the damages caused by the blockade amounted to $64,274,000, affecting the development of the sector, both in terms of infrastructure and services.

Likewise, we must once again reiterate before this Committee our total rejection and condemnation of the permanent radio and television aggression of the Government of the United States against Cuba, which contravenes the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and several provisions of the International Telecommunication Union. Such is the case of the broadcasting of programs specially designed to incite the overthrow of the constitutional order established by the Cuban people.

During the year 2021 alone, a weekly average of 2,140 hours have been illegally transmitted from the United States to Cuba through 22 frequencies.

Mr. Chairman,

The use of communications technologies must be fully compatible and in accordance with the principles of international law and the Charter of the United Nations and respect sovereignty, non-interference in the internal affairs of States and internationally recognized norms of peaceful coexistence among them.

Cuba also rejects the State Department's decision in January 2018 to convene a "Cuba Internet Task Force". Said working group aims at turning social networks into channels of subversion, creation of wireless networks outside state control and cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure.

In addition to the above, financial support is growing for the development of platforms for the generation of ideological content that openly calls for the overthrow of the Cuban constitutional order. Calls for demonstrations in public spaces are launched, and even incite the execution of sabotage and terrorist acts, including the assassination of law enforcement officers and government representatives. Without the slightest restraint, and without the intervention of law enforcement agencies, the rates paid from the United States to the executors of these criminal actions are declared.

What measures has the US Government taken to prevent such aggressive actions? The right of a people to choose its own political, economic and social system is a right that cannot be questioned nor can it be prevented.

Once again, we express our most vigorous protest and condemnation of the US government's attempt to flagrantly violate the Cuban sovereignty regarding national competence to regulate the flow of information and the use of the mass media, while rejecting the attempt to manipulate the Internet to carry out illegal programs for political and subversive purposes.

Thank you.