5 July 2008

Cuba Wants Internet Democratised

[This is an abridged and slightly edited version of the speech by Felipe Pérez Roque, Cuban Foreign Minister, at a recent summit of Information Ministers of the Non-Aligned Movement in Caracas.]
The unjust and anti-democratic international order is responsible for the chasm separating North and South in the production, access and flow of information. It violates the rights of our people to receive true and objective information.

The monopolistic control of information and communication constitutes a strategic component of imperial domination. The growing concentration and transnationalisation of proprietorship of major mass media and advertising control, already running into more than a billion dollars annually, has substituted public opinion for fabricated opinion. More than 90 per cent of the news belongs to a group of transnational businesses. Proprietorship declines and therefore also the diversity of the sources of information.

We are bombarded continually with false allegations… our achievements are often distorted or simply silenced. Falsehood happens daily. It tries to interpret and write history from the lens of the powerful. It tries to justify discrimination and xenophobia. Conditioned reflexes are created through the media. Victims are turned into victimisers. It dumbs down and lies.

The political manipulation of information and the complicity of the communication media have reached extreme levels. They articulate campaigns with multi-million funds and the most sophisticated media. It is about media terrorism, the most effective arm in the 21st century in the hands of the powerful.

Cuba knows its effects well. For almost five decades, it has confronted electronic aggression. Almost two thousand hours are broadcast weekly at Cuba through 30 different frequencies using 19 radio and TV channels. These transmissions call for violence and assassination, falsify and twist facts and promote the destruction of the legally established constitutional order.

Before an energy and food crisis of global reach, the idea of consumerism as synonymous with well being is being encouraged. News, advertising and practically all of the so-called entertainment industry imposes only one model of society, degrading the environment and impoverishing the majority, demonising at the same time any alternative proposal to the existing order.

How can the objective of an informed society, participatory and inclusive, be reached if in the underdeveloped world almost 800 million people remain illiterate and 80 million children don’t go to primary school? There are no miracle technologies to eradicate poverty and underdevelopment. It needs change in the world order. It needs political will of those who, more than being responsible and beneficiaries of this unjust and unsustainable situation, count on the resources that today are wasted on arms, luxuries and extravagances.

The Internet offers the possibility of placing at low cost information which the media domination hides. But the Internet is also invaded by big businesses. The vat difference in Internet access between the nations of the South and of the industrialised North puts us at a disadvantage. Today more than half the Internet users in the world are from North America and Europe though the population in these regions does not exceed a sixth of the world population. They also own three-quarters of the Internet infrastructure.

The contents that circulate in cyberspace are overwhelmingly produced in the countries of the North, 95% of these in only ten languages. It is imperative to put the Internet under the governance of an international democratic institution that promotes international cooperation and equal access to technology for all nations.

There is growing use of spying against our countries and for war on the part of the largest powers in information and communication technology. A massive electronic intelligence network, better known as Red Echelon, operates with the complicity of the transnational corporations. The use of these technologies for the proliferation of nuclear arms is a source of great worry. The USA announced a couple of weeks ago that it had operationalised a supercomputer baptised as ‘Road Runner’ that will be dedicated to maintaining its nuclear arsenal and of its military hegemony.

Let us join forces to defend our right to truth, a just and equitable international order and international solidarity.

Source: Rebelión

1 comment:

Walter Lippmann said...

Thanks for posting Perez Roque's commentary. May I invite your readers who are interested in Cuba to check out the CubaNews list which has been active for eight years. Collecting and sharing news, information, documents and commentaries on Cuba from many points of view, there are over 85,000 items available in its free and easy-to-use database of information.

As editor, I don't hold back my personal opinions, which are very strongly pro-Cuba, but these are clearly separated from the information made available to over 1200 readers.

Please check it out! Thanks.