It’s Go Skate Day and many skaters around the world are waking up and getting ready for a day of skate or local events in their communities. But this year, Boards for Bros and Amigo Skate are spending the day in Cuba.
Skateboarding in Cuba
When most of think of Cuba, skateboarding is not the first thing that comes to mind. However, Cuba boasts a great skate scene that has been growing in part due to the investment of Miami Based non-profit, Amigo Skate and their partnership with Skatepark of Tampa based charity, Boards for Bros. Over the years, Rene Lecour (founder of Amigo Skate) has been taking trips to his home country to bring boards and organize skate events.
“The problem is that Cuban youth are trapped in a feud between two cultures. With no skate shops in Cuba, it’s nearly impossible to acquire skateboards and other supplies needed to keep skating alive. Breaking one’s skateboard deck often means going months without a replacement. When this happens they call it the “dark months.” Cuba’s skate scene was born in the 1980s when Russian soldiers left their skateboards with a couple of scrappy street kids who never gave up on their dreams and have kept things rolling for 30+ years. One of these two original skaters is still on board and he is involved in this project.” – Amigo Skate
Solving the Skateboard Crisis in Cuba
In 2014, when President Obama established a new trading relationship, it made bringing boards into the country a lot easier. Instead of, smuggling “Skateboarding Equipment, Musical Instruments and Art Supplies into Havana” to hand deliver to the youth, Amigo Skate had more freedom the last few year to legally bring in gifts to the locals. This year is no different. President Trump’s announcement on Cuba did not change or deter their plans. The 100s of boards and supplies donated made it there safely according to their last instagram post. This will be the third year that these two organizations have teamed up to make sure those who love skateboarding in Cuba have a way to enjoy it.
“We kind of packed up the skateboards and said a little prayer and sent them on the plane,” said Michelle Box, Executive Director of Boards for Bros.
“A big part of what Amigo Skate does is collect unwanted or broken skateboard equipment, refurbish, rebuild, and then recycle it back to skaters in need. Besides supplying new and used decks, wheels, hardware, grip and trucks; we have gathered a wide variety of action sports gear, music equipment, and art supplies. After collecting and refurbishing everything we redistribute the goods to kids wherever and whenever we see a need. The main mission is to provide youth with an outlet to express themselves.” – Amigo Skate
A New Skate Spot
The team also plans to attempt to build Cuba’s first concrete skate ramp DIY style. They will be converting an old drainage ditch into a new skate spot for Cuban skaters.
“There is not an official skate park but as skaters do, they do it themselves,” Box said. “It’s absolutely thrilling. We feel skateboarding should be in everyone’s lives, regardless of your economic or cultural background.”
The group will also do some local murals with artists from Atomic tattoos and host a skate contests and gathering today for Go Skate Day.
With communication issues in Cuba, we have heard very little from the team but are looking forward to the stories and photos when they return.