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  

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.

A timeless revolucion – Standby Collective
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Standby Collective (Humberto Rodríguez and Elvis Morales) was one of Cuba’s first grassroots, underground, skateboarding and surfing film creators, capturing some of Cuba’s and Havana’s best. Check out Revolucion – Evolution from early 2011, a movie they made with another Havana-based skater and filmmaker who operates under the name YMG Films.     La evolución nunca termina, perseverancia, adaptación, coraje, instintos, supervivencia y autoestima son las cualidades que nos permitirán seguir adelante. Dedicado al skateboarding en Cuba y a todos los que ayudan a la escena skater cubana en el mundo entero. Revolución – Evolution es una coproducción de Standby Collective y YMG Films filmado desde principios del 2011 y estrenado en Cuba en Mayo. En casi 40 min abarca lo mejor de todos los skaters de La Habana y otros extranjeros que han patinado junto a la escena skater de la isla. The evolution never ends, perseverance, adaptation, courage, instincts, survival and self-esteem are the qualities that enable us to move forward. Dedicated to skateboarding in Cuba and all those who help the Cuban skater scene in the world. Revolution – Evolution is a collaboration of Standby Collective and YMG Films filmed from early 2011 and premiered in Cuba in May. In nearly 40 minutes covering the best of all skaters in Havana and other foreigners who have skated with the skate scene of the island. Skaters: Yohani Pérez (Mamerto) / Che A. Pando / Humberto Rodríguez (Bankai) / Raciel Pereda (Raper) / Fernando Verdecia / Yoan Galiana / Reinaldo Vicet (Karem) […]

Havana’s lefts…
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One of Havana’s left-handers being enjoyed by one of Havana’s local surf and skate freaks Humberto…   Footage by Standby Collective, La Habana, Cuba

Santaria Surf, A Cuban Surf Story.
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Imagine 30 days in Cuba with no swell and a heat even too hot for the devil…    Eduardo Valdes, President of the Cuban Surfriders Association leaves me on the porch of his house in the suburb of Playa to take a phone call. It’s 4.30pm on a boiling hot summer afternoon in Havana and I’ve been stuck here now for nearly a month. The days are unbelievably sweltering, the nights even worse; muggy and sticky beyond belief. You don’t get used to this kind of heat. You only learn to deal with it. Before the trip, Ed warned me not to come to Cuba in summer, they say not even the devil would visit during summer. I never listened, but every minute I spend in this heat I wish I’d heeded his advice. The power has been out all day around the neighbourhood because of the heat. It’s not unusual. Cuba’s electrical grid struggles to supply the people.   As I wait for Ed to finish the phone call, a few local surfers gather on his porch, as do some neighbours. Everyone’s talking about the power outage; they are over it. No-one slept last night since there has been no electricity since then. You can’t survive a night here without air-conditioning. Cubans speak fast and I lose any hope of understanding what is creating the bursts of laughter among them. Despite the language barrier, I struggle to imagine leaving this hell I have grown to love with all its […]

Surfing with the Enemy…
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Surfing With The Enemy is a documentary about a small group of surfers from Havana struggling to establish a niche for their sport in Cuba’s restrictive society. Guided by Eduardo Valdes, one of the country’s only shapers and the founder of the Havana Surf Association, two filmmakers from Venice Beach travel across the island to the notorious Guantanamo province, home to the country’s best waves. Searching for surf along this controversial coast, they discover a forbidden paradise just miles from the American border, and learn what it means to be a surfer and a citizen of modern-day Cuba. The film is narrated by actor Lance Henriksen (Aliens, The X Files), produced by Venice the Menace and presented by Polaris Global Media.

silence is golden… CIA VS Cuba’s SURFERS
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The story of CIA-backed Freedom House and its attempt to smuggle illegal satellite dishes into Cuba disguised as surfboards/bodyboards has again been revisited. This time by blogger Tracey Eaton in Havana Times. However, in the interview both Barry Fink and Robert Guerra declined to give details. Check out the story at http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=93369  Since Fink and Guerra have decided not to comment about the incident that occurred in 2008, we thought we’d  fill in a few blanks to help them remember. Fink entered Cuba with the intention of filming a documentary about local surfers. He brought with him 12 surfboards into Havana, surfboard accessories, tools for board shaping, plus filming equipment. While Fink and the Cuban surfers travelled around doing the odd bit of filming, during this period Fink also spent a lot of time splitting up technical items he had with him and dropping off packages in odd locations – such as in bushes and under bridges etc. The original Granma newspaper article states that a black bag which was to be dropped off under a bridge was not found at its location. The intended recipient was Cuban electronics technician Dalexi González Madruga. The reason the package was not found by Madruga was because when Havana’s surfers realised what was going on, they dumped the black bag in a neighbourhood rubbish bin. Perhaps silence isn’t so golden after all, but the truth undeniably is. Photos : Havana Times

Like the Revolution…some things never die
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Like the Revolution…Some things never die. “I will always remember the drive from the airport to Havana. The cars passing by, the people dancing in the streets, the Che billboards, and all this in the sunset light”  – Ozzie Wright (Sipping Jetstreams) On leaving Cuba, Ozzie left his board with the Cuban surfers. Many years have passed and the board still lives on in Havana. Now stored in Cuba’s national aquarium it is used by local kids who do not have boards of their own to surf.

Solidarity Rock Comp Vol 1…
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Want to support musicians in Cuba? Check out this compilation of bands supporting Solidarity Rock and for a few dollars you too can help. Bands: The Mandates, Uh-Oh, No Problem, The Vibrating Beds, Adictox, Eamon McGrath, SLATES, Kids on Fire, The City Streets, ARRABIO,Guerillas of Soul, The Fight, Falklands, Gatillo, The Get Down, Morals, Old Wives, Limalla, Vicious Cycles, Previous Tenants Compiled by James Stewart Mastered by Jesse Gander

A Cuban love story about surfing, spies and espionage…
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In 2008/2009 CIA backed anti-Cuban government groups used surfboards to smuggle satellite equipment into Cuba in an attempt to overthrow the Cuban government. After 50 years of endless terrorism against Cuba and its people, surfboards are now listed as a national security threat because of these actions. Two years later, Royal 70, a non-profit Cuban collective used surfboards to bring smiles to Cuba’s surfers and kids. Our project in theory was simple. We were travelling to Cuba with 18 brand new surfboards in tow with the help of Pan American Surf Association. We would cycle from Havana to Baracoa, taking kids surfing and giving away the boards along the journey, as well as documenting Cuba’s much needed support for their surfers. Three days into our trip we were robbed. Now trapped in Havana due to a lack of funds we took some time to document another one of our goals: Cuba’s environmental and coastal concerns. We retrained our focus on setting up a program to educate the island’s kids on this issue with the help of Joel Harper’s book All The Way To The Ocean. Including music by The Cuban Cowboys, Burning Spear and Joel Harper plus more.