Over the years, Cuba’s government hasn’t been the kindest to its surfers, or surfing.
The sport isn’t technically legal in Cuba, it’s heavily frowned upon, and there are only around 100 surfers in the country.
If Cuba considered surfing a sport, the government would provide funds to its athletes.
Instead, the government classifies surfing as a recreational activity rather than a sport, meaning Cuban surfers are often forced to make their own surfboards. Cuban designers usually have to craft a board out miscellaneous materials, like foam from old refrigerators or salvaged fiberglass.
However, Cuba’s government is wary of surfers because they believe they could be trying to flee the country.
As the New York Times reported, Cuba’s government has always been suspicious of surfers because people normally defect from the country via the waters. Cuban surfer Eduardo Valdes told the New York Times that the country’s earliest surfers, from Baracoa, were arrested for attempting to leave the country.
And the government believes surfing is too closely associated with U.S. culture.
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Cuban surfer Arnan Perez Lantigua told Surfer how Cuba associates it with the U.S., saying,
“They also consider it an American sport, which is a problem for the government because they see RVCA and Quiksilver and all the companies as private American companies, which they don’t want to support. So that also makes it pretty much impossible to be sponsored by an American company.”
But the country’s surfers want to represent Cuba in the 2020 olympics, so they’re fighting these stigmas.
Thanks to the current political and social evolution in Cuba, surfers are attempting to change the government and the people’s perception of the sport. They’ve established a petition, which people can sign here, and they’re working to legitimize the sport by making the public aware of what surfing is.
And a documentary is capturing this pivotal time in Cuba’s surfing culture.
Right now, surfing is not a recognized sport in Cuba. Please sign and share the petition at www.surflibre.org to give Cuba's surfers the opportunity to pursue their passion and join the world for the 2020 Olympic Games. How? What? Why?A remnant from the cold war, and embargo by the United States, this legal grey zone has blocked surfers on the island from competing both in and outside their country. Dreaming of connecting with the world and protecting their oceans, this island community hopes that having the world at their backs will finally tip the scales in their favor. More on the story can be found at www.havanalibrefilm.com – where Makewild has been creating a documentary film on Cuba's underground surfing transformation during the country's monumental moment of change in 2016.
Posted by Makewild on Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Despite being unnamed as of today, the documentary is currently scheduled for a 2018 release. Tons of great information is available on their website, which you can check out here.
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