New Restrictions Threaten Cuban Skateboarding…
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Thanks to Rene Lecour at Amigo Skate Cuba Cuban state media recently announced new customs restrictions on the amount of items allowed in the country through commercial travel. While the government says that the new rule is intended to cut down on a growing black market that undermines recent economic reforms, many fear unintended consequences. For example, the fledging Cuban skateboarding scene relies on skateboards and gear brought in from the outside world. Skaters on the island feel that the new rule may change their way of life. It happened at 23 y G, an intersection in Havana, Cuba. It’s nothing much really. Just a few small benches spread out among scrawny trees that offer scant protection from the sun’s glare. But for one scrawny kid that day some 12 years ago, the humble parcel of land seemed like Eden. At age 13, Fernando Verdecia Maseda finally found some other skaters. Maseda would go on to become one of Cuba’s greatest skaters – but he had to emigrate to Miami to find widespread respect for his skills. Years earlier, Maseda first discovered skateboarding at his next-door neighbor’s house. The enterprising neighbor would let him play a half-hour’s worth of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater for 5 Cuban pesos on a well-worn PlayStation. “In the beginning, I thought that Tony Hawk was just a character,” Maseda said through a translator. “But when I saw the real videos in the game of him, then I wanted to go out and do it.” Soon after, […]

USAID – All American and Global Joke…
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The following is a declaration by Cubans hoping for real change… US leaders, interested in showing their electorates and Congress that they are concerned about and actively involved in promoting “democracy” in Cuba, take misguided steps time and time again, deploying counterproductive programs aimed at impelling a “democratic transition” on the island. Not long ago, it was the Twitter-like Zunzuneo program, and now we are hearing about the sending of young Latin Americans to Cuba, tasked with “identifying” potential young leaders for “transition or destabilization” plans, depending on one’s perspective. Either US leaders do not care one bit about the struggle of the Cuban people to set a true process of peaceful democratization in motion and build a society better than the one they have now, or they are so stubbornly set on prolonging the situation the people of Cuba are in to demonstrate how unviable “socialism” is that they are simply incapable of doing something sensible. The one thing these kinds of programs implemented by USAID are good for is giving the Cuban government more pretexts to continue with its repressive policies at home and to step up its “customs and immigration controls.” If it is truly interested in helping the Cuban people develop a process of democratization, what the United States should do is unconditionally lift all of its absurd, discriminatory and criminal blockade-embargo laws, laws which, as we have mentioned in previous articles, do not affect the living standards of the leadership in the least and do […]

Cleaning Havana’s Ocean Front – One Step at a Time…
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Havana’s ocean drive sea wall welcomes thousands of people every day, particularly during the summer months. Young people also bathe in this area of Cuba’s northern coast, even though it is technically illegal. As many Cubans and foreigners gather along this coastal strip, especially the area between the US Interests Section and Old Havana’s Prado street, the water tends to be littered with garbage that are thrown onto the reef and sea (most intensely during Havana’s summer carnivals). In response to this, the members of the Guardabosques environmental project, a group that is part of the Observatorio Critico network, and other friends have carried out clean-up campaigns in the area near Prado street. The first clean-up took place in 2010, the second in 2012 and we are planning another for August, 2014. During each of our two previous sanitation campaigns, we have pulled out more than ten sacks of garbage, bottles, paper, plastic bags, cans, broken glass, bits of driftwood and all manner of waste materials from the water. People always give us a strange look – we look “suspicious” to them – but, when they approach us and we have a chance to talk, after we explain to them why we do what we do, some help us, others praise and congratulate us and others tell us we’re crazy and that what we do is pointless. Generally speaking, we do manage to draw people’s attention to the need to avoid throwing garbage into the sea, of looking after beauty […]

Misfits Of Bull Bay – Maroons of the ocean
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  Jamaica has many ties with the island of Cuba.  They are neighbours. Fragments of Jamaica’s political past stood beside Castro’s ideology without apology. They fought similar battles against Babylon. Out of Cuba came some of the Rastafarian movement’s greatest figures: Mortimer Planno (Rasta Elder), Rita Marley, and the godfather of Jamaican ska, Lorenzo “Laurel” Aikken. Both islands are rich in Africa’s past and present, from Jamaica’s Rastafarian movement to Cuba’s Yoruba, and so much more. Both islands have been, and still are at  the forefront of the green revolution. Both islands have a love affair with Ethiopia and all things African. Cuban president Fidel Castro was quoted in August 1979 by the Associated Press as saying he was frustrated by the lack of enthusiasm from his citizens, who would prefer to volunteer in Ethiopia then their own country. “Hundreds of thousands turn up wanting to go to Ethiopia, or Angola, or wherever. Demonstrating their revolutionary political consciousness in somethings, but when it is required on a daily basis, it fails to appear.” Outside the US, Cuba had the largest number of Marcus Garvey’s UNIA  (Universal Negro Improvement Association) branches. Garvey was a Jamaican political leader, journalist and entrepreneur whose teachings gave rise to the modern Rastafarian movement. The connections could be listed endlessly, but the most important tie of all is that both islands have a small community of grassroots surfers who have bonded over recent years, thanks to Jamaican Icah Wilmot. He travelled to Cuba back in February  2010 to compete against the Cubans in […]

Brutal in Cuba – It’s back again…
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      Bands from four countries will make the musical scale in six Cuban cities as part of the summer edition of Brutal Fest. European groups, exponents of extreme metal, will seduce a national audience by participating in the Brutal Summer Fest, a traveling event that will come in its eighth edition to six cities, from 15 to 24 of this month. Festival organizers told the press that this time the bands Dead Cowboys, from France; Carnal Demise, Finland; Insanity, Switzerland, and Neid, from Italy, a country represented for the first time, will be performing at the event. The tour will begin in Holguín on the 15th Then will follow presentations in Bayamo (August 16), Santiago de Cuba (17), Camaguey (19) and Santa Clara (21). In the Maxim Rock in Havana the capital followers expect to have these groups for two nights: 22 and 23; the last stop of the tour will be Pinar del Río (24th). Local groups will accompany each show, said David Chapet, general producer of Brutal Fest. Also the director of the French label Brutal Beatdwon said this festival, sponsored by the Cuban Rock Agency and the record label he leads, has boosted, since its inception in 2008, the exchange of experiences between Cuban and foreign artists; hence it is highly anticipated and fills the participants with enthusiasm. This time around for the island Switch, Deadpoint, Stigma DC, Congregation, The Shepal, The one who bleeds, Wishbone, Metastasys, Parasomnia, Resistenzia and Trend are performing.  

Cuba Skate team up with YMG Films…
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Miles Jackson from Cuba Skate has to be one of the hardest working guys I know. He never f#@king gives up and this is why he is one of the most amazing guys in the international skateboarding community. This time he has teamed up with the legends from YMG Films to create some amazing footage with Cuba’s street-skating freaks. Check out this preview of their work…

Surfing The Embargo – Alexa Van Sickle
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“I had my fears about landing in Havana with a surfboard. The things aren’t illegal, per se, but the Cuban government—until its recent moves to make traveling out of the country simpler for Cubans—had been sensitive about any flotation devices that could aid would-be defectors. And there was that 2011 report in state-run media that the CIA tried to bring in surveillance equipment disguised as surfboards in a fake surfing contest.” – Alexa Van Sickle, roadsandkingdoms.com Check out this honest and amazing look into the lives of Cuba’s small surfing community and the struggles they face just to get into the water. Surfing The Embargo – Alexa Van Sickle  

Patinas Sin Fronteras En Cuba Trailer
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PATINAS SIN FRONTERAS (SKATE WITHOUT BORDERS) Check out this 6 minute trailer by film buff and street artist Spencer Keeton Cunningham. He recently created this while visiting the island of Cuba with the guys from Amigo Skate Cuba. I traveled to Cuba this month with some close friends to donate skateboards to skateboarders on the island. During our stay I shot a film titled “Patinas Sin Fronteras.” The film documents current conditions of skateboarders in Cuba. In Cuba there are no skate shops of any kind and no ways of getting skateboards or any of the necessary equipment needed to skate. The only way for skateboarders to continue to skate in Cuba is if people continue to share boards, wheels, trucks, etc with each other. This is the trailer for the film shot in Cuba. The title of the film translates to “Skate Without Borders” or “You Skate Without Borers” Cinematografía Chris Miller Y Spencer Keeton Cunningham Special Thanks: Amigo Skate Cuba, Rene Lecour, Matt Eversole, Roberto Gomez, George Lorenzo, Anthony Perez, Mike Freeman, Rodney, Jimi, Gordito,Will Sprott, Jose Rojo, Carlos and Jen at ES7, El Che, Jonathon Hexner, and 23 G

Maestra The Film – A Must See…
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Cuba 1961 – 250,000 volunteer teachers join the national literacy campaign. Almost half of them were under 18 and over half of them were women. Together they taught a nation to read and write – and their lives would never be the same. The Cuban Literacy Campaign of 1961 dramatically changed the nation’s literacy levels within one year by organizing over 100,000 volunteers — over half of who were women — to teach classes in the rural areas of the country. In 2005, our documentary crew began collecting testimonies of women literacy teachers, exploring how this experience influenced their lives & sense of self, as well as the future of their nation. This film brought tears to my eyes. Thank you. It is beautiful. Alice Walker Writer and Peacemaker Pulitzer Prize Winner Author of “The Color Purple” Check out this amazing documentary by Catherine Murphy at www.maestrathefilm.org  

Cuban Punk Invasion is heading to Canada…
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SUNDAY JUNE 15 SOLIDARITY ROCK PRESENTS SLATES – ARRABIO – ADICTOX – VIKING FELL – BOOK OF CAVERNS – BACK TO THE BLANKET BARBER HA $12 at door SLATES – New Damage recording artists ARRABIO – CUBAN HARDCORE HEROS ADICTOX – SANTA CLARA STREET PUNX VIKING FELL – Melancholy Dance Rock BOOK OF CAVERNS – DIY true believers BACK TO THE BLANKET – Hip Hop breakouts from Eden Valley, AB Solidarity Rock is back with a history bending Cuban punk invasion. June 15, Edmonton heavies SLATES will take the stage with their Cuban brethren for the first time in 4 years. Trinidad, Cuba’s Hardcore heros ARRABIO return to Edmonton, their second home. This time, they will travel with ADICTOX from Santa Clara, the punkest band in the world (not joking). This will be ADICTOX’s first show out side of Cuba. VIKING FELL is the latest Canadian band to make the journey and tour across Cuba. They are sportin new dance jams and can’t be stopped. BOOK OF CAVERNS are a DIY tour de force. Building and crashing, singing songs with heart and a pile of emotion, this is straight outta 1998. BACK TO THE BLANKET are a young hip hop act from Eden Valley, AB and will be playing with ARRABIO and Adictox in towns across treaty 7 territory later in the month. Cash bar, early start, Don’t miss it. THIS IS SOLIDARITY ROCK. WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER – ESTAMOS JUNTOS EN ESTO  

Last Paradise Film – A Must See
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Back in early 2009, my partner and I travelled to Gisborne, New Zealand to interview kiwi surfing legend Allan Byrne. I was hoping for 10 minutes of his time for a few words and thoughts about New Zealand’s surfing past. But what I actually got were three hours of beers, laughs, inspiring thoughts and an education on everything from board designs to star consolations. It was a time when I was only thinking about working with the Cuban surfers and I had nothing set in stone, only a few concerns about the whole idea. Allan changed all that on this one single night, inspiring me to throw everything I had behind helping and supporting Cuba’s surfing community without a second thought. Allan Byrne was one of the worlds greatest surfing heroes, shapers and inspirations. A true legend… This is a short extract from the film “Last Paradise” which was about to release before Allan’s tragic passing. The original adventure pioneers tell the story of a 45 year global quest for adventure and paradise in stunning original footage. Cinema screenings of Last Paradise will be held in 2014. See www.lastparadisefilm.com for movie screenings.

Living Off The Wall – CubaSkate
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One of Cuba’s most creative skaters and surfers, Yojani Pérez Rivera reflects on how he and his amigos are #livingoffthewall to make the most of the little they have. Mamerto, as he’s known around the island, is among the most active local skaters advancing Cuba Skate’s mission. Cuba Skate, an NGO created by American skater Miles Jackson, is in the process of creating a documentary feature following the lives of Mamerto and his scrappy crew, 23yG, to rally the international skate community around its goals: 1. provide much needed skate materials to the Cuban youth 2. renovate the only, dilapidated skateparks in Havana 3. establish the first skate shop in Cuba and foster a bilateral educational exchange between Cuban and American skaters Winning Vans’ #LIVINGOFFTHEWALL Contest would help us make the Cuba Skate documentary a reality and share Mamerto and 23yG’s story with the world. Thanks for your consideration!  

Threads, Art and Cuba – Roark
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This is a must see… Nothing else to say! TRUTH, LOYALTY, ROOTS AND ROARK. Roark Clothing. Truth, Loyalty, Roots and Roark. Affectionately known as Roark. A return to bold adventurism through the eyes of an idealized figure.   check out more at www.roarkrevival.com

Cuban Fidelity – Red Bull Skateboarding
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Cuban Fidelity – Red Bull take to the streets of Cuba. Time stands still in Cuba, as the old US cars and vast colonial mansions vie for your attention. If you’re on the lookout for a beautiful background for your skateboarding, there’s no place like this Carribean Island. Even though the Castro brothers are becoming older and Cuban society is now on the verge of transformation, things change slowly in Havana. Videographer Patrik Wallner and skateboarders Walker Ryan and Michael Mackrodt took what may prove to be their last chance to visit the ‘untouched’ Cuba. Enjoy! Check out the teaser here : http://www.redbull.com/en/skateboarding/holy-shit-video/1331647244702/cuban-fidelity-skating-through-the-past-teaser http://www.redbull.com/skateboarding  

Cuba’s Rock’n’Roll and Hardcore Gods…
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ARRABIO hail from the Trinidad, Cuba, the 500 year old jewel of the nation’s Caribbean coast. After years in isolation The band has distilled its unique sound, carving their spot in the international hardcore community. It was once illegal in Cuba to play rock n roll, now this 4-piece has been at the forefront of creating a DIY rock n roll revolution in Cuba, a country hungry for something new.