State Department Press Briefing

Monday, July 27, 2009
State Department spokesman Ian Kelly on the news ticker displayed on the facade of the U.S. Interests Section building in Havana:

QUESTION: A different topic in the region. On Cuba, do you have anything to say about your decision to switch off this news ticker at your Interests Section?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. As I understand it, the news ticker was turned off in June. The – we believe that the billboard was really not effective as a means to delivering information to the Cuban people. It was evident that the Cuban people weren't even able to read the billboard because of some obstructions that were put in front of it. We think that some of the measures that the President announced on April 13 to increase the free flow of information to the people of Cuba will ultimately be more effective in trying to promote the free flow of information.

QUESTION: Would you – was this something that the Cubans had asked you specifically not to do in any of the meetings that took place? And then, was this kind of a sign of goodwill?

MR. KELLY: Well, I will note that the Cubans, for their part, did dismantle a few very negative billboards and graffiti around the U.S. Interests Section, which we do see as a positive gesture. But whether or not this was specifically raised in these talks, I just don't know.

QUESTION: Would you – would we interpret this as a goodwill gesture by the U.S. towards Cuba, or is this solely because you don't think it was effective?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think what we're trying to do here is we're trying to do all we can to promote the free flow of information between the U.S. and Cuba. That's why the President announced these measures. We are looking for ways that we can do that in the best way possible. And we just felt that this – these dueling, disparaging – not – well, disparaging is the wrong word, but these dueling billboards, if you will, was not serving in the interests of promoting a more productive relationship.

QUESTION: Okay. So it was solely a U.S. decision to do this? It was not prompted or requested or anything like that?

MR. KELLY: I'm not sure. I'm not sure if – I'm sure it was requested, but I'm not a hundred percent sure.