Surf Revolution Cuba – Huck Magazine 2009
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    This article originally appeared in Huck 15 – The Maya Gabeira Issue from summer 2009. As relations thaw between Cuba and the US, and talk of lifting the blockade is in the air, Huck is thinking about how the blockade has affected young people and how their lives will change if it’s lifted. In this archive piece from summer 2009, we headed to Cuba to uncover the island’s underground surf scene. Cuban surfers are among the most dedicated in the world, risking imprisonment to find materials and relying on donations from foreigners to get boards and leashes. Never mind the blockade. Psssst, psssst…” Eduardo Valdés, head of the Asociación de Surfistas de Cuba, looks uncharacteristically shifty as he peers through a wire fence, trying to attract the attention of a worker at Cuba’s national plastic factory. It’s here that the island’s chairs, tables and packaging are produced and employees, like in every industry in Cuba, supplement their meagre wages by selling the materials of their trade on the black market. Pretending to take a cigarette break, a man sidles up to the fence three metres to the left of Eduardo. Looking in opposite directions, a rapid-fire exchange takes place. “What you want?” “Three bottles of resin.” “45 CUC.” “No way, man. 30.” “40.” “35.” “Wait for me outside the bar around the corner. Give me thirty minutes. I need the money now.” Forty tense minutes later and the worker appears clutching a flimsy plastic bag containing three cylindrical […]

Wrinkles of the City: Havana, Cuba
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There is nothing more romantic about a revolution than its people. Two artists capture Cuba’s romance with life and share it on the streets of Havana. This short film documents the beauty of such a project. A must see…  

The Cuban Pleybo vs The Goons Of Doom
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Check out how to create a crude Cuban surfboard in the time it takes The Goons Of Doom to sing ‘Slapper’. It took me about one week to source a small piece of scrap plywood. This is because in Cuba nothing is wasted. Everything is recycled and re-used. The Pleybo is a Cuban surfboard that was, and still is, very common around Cuba’s beaches…

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

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

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.

Black and Cuba
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Black and Cuba follows street-smart students, who are outcasts at an elite Ivy League university, as they band together and adventure to Cuba to see if revolution is truly possible. While filming their poignant encounters with AfroCuban youth, breathtaking sites and moving hip-hop performances, the travelers confront realities behind myths of color-blindness and social mobility. This edgy and artful documentary of their journey uncovers renewed hope for equality and human rights. Featuring Angela Davis, Fidel Castro, Fred Hampton, Ché Guevara, Malcolm X and Assata Shakur in rarely seen footage.

The Black Market Collective Cuba
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Black Market Collective is the latest initiative from Royal 70 and Havanasurf. More than 50 years of US sanctions on the island of Cuba have forced Cubans to create and survive by a black market system through which basic necessities (limited by sanctions) are traded and purchased. This not only benefits citizens but also the nation’s government. Black Market Collective works in a similar way on an international scale, not bound by US sanctions within or outside Cuba’s borders. It is a network of passionate people with the same goal: to help surfing grow on the island and to get more kids in the water by sourcing and donating much-needed surfing equipment and educational tools. Music by The Cuban Cowboys http://www.cubancowboys.com