Things That Matter

Cuban Youths Are Skateboarding In Record Numbers And Don’t Want To Be Nationally Recognized As A Sport

Skateboarding has been used as a form of inclusion for teens and young adults to express their individuality. It keeps them active and allows them to form a tribe of like-minded individuals who can converse on the latest skate tricks and develop an artistic identity outside the conventional norms of society. Cuba is known around the world for the strict government and austerity that permeates the island. But a small group of young adults are taking their boards to the street to give themselves, and others, hope.

That sentiment extends to the marble-lined strip of Paseo del Prado in Havana, the main strip for skaters to practice stunts in the city.

Che Alejandro Pando, a tattoo artist and veteran of the skateboarding scene in Cuba, told the Havana Times, “With the boredom we have in this country, if you give a kid a skateboard and he goes for it, you are giving him something healthy to do, instead of hanging on to the outside of buses or drinking out and about.”

Skateboarding has given young people something positive to do in a country where good news is rare.

Teens are using skateboarding as an active, healthy lifestyle choice, and skater girls and women are using it additionally as a way to empower themselves. Although women on the island do have a certain degree of equal rights, the typical expectation is to be revered as a wife, mother and sister—not to go and dare to be anything they want to be.

With a board in hand, some Cuban women are seeing it as their metaphorical form of a spear and shield.

Team up with sPACycLOUd tomorrow, Aug. 5th to help female shredders in Cuba! Come to Local 16 and join our fundraising…

Posted by Skate Girls Tribe on Friday, August 4, 2017

“I do totally have this sensation of being different just for having a passion,” Belkis López Correa told the Miami New Times. “Like I’m fighting so hard to do something I love.”

López Correa endured stares, questions from her parents and scraped knees all to do the sport that she loves.

Regardless of who is on the board, skateboarders in Cuba are wary of authorities and are conscientious that they are not seen as a recognized sport by the country’s National Institute of Sport, Physical Education, and Recreation (INDER) for fear of being regulated by bureaucratic red tape. Some skaters have reported having their boards confiscated, being slapped with fines or even getting arrested.

Getting a board confiscated is often a literal derailment for skaters, since boards are hard to come by on the island.

Some non-governmental organizations such as Amigo Skate and Cuba Skate (both coincidentally started in the same year) have been providing skateboards and equipment for Cuban skateboarders since 2010.

The skateboarding community in Cuba continues to grow and offers necessary hope.

Amigo Skate’s website says “the primary focus of our mission in Cuba has been to facilitate the tools and skills needed for Havana’s at-risk youth to foster a world where creativity has no limits.” Now the organization is working on expanding past Havana and bringing the support of the organization to eight other cities on the island that have a thriving skateboarding culture.

And there is no shortage of organizations facilitating the growth of this sport.

Cuba Skate also began in 2010 when two University of Michigan alums who had studied abroad in Cuba and made close ties with local skateboarders decided to keep that connection going. What emerged was a NGO to “establish sustainability for the island’s skateboarding communities.”

Skateboarding has a short history in Cuba, coming to the island just 40 to 50 years ago.

According to the Miami New Times article, skateboarding was first introduced in Cuba by Soviet soldiers, doctors and students who brought skateboards to the island in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Kids around Havana soon started making their own makeshift skateboards. By the ‘90s, skateboards were smuggled in thanks to travelers or those who worked abroad. Then in the 2000s, skateboarding culture started growing in the city. Havana even received donated ramps from Red Bull to build the Patinodromo, one of the only skate parks in the city.

Skateboarding still has a long way to go in Havana, since it is still seen as a ‘rogue activity’ due to its unofficial status as a sport and its ties to American NGOs and partnerships. Yet, the young men and women skating up and down the cities of Cuba are giving the country’s youth something to look forward to.


READ: The Latinos Who Defined Skateboarding’s Future Featured In ‘L.A. Boys’ Documentary

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President Trump Attempted To Register His Trademark In Cuba In 2008 To Open Hotels And More

Things That Matter

President Trump Attempted To Register His Trademark In Cuba In 2008 To Open Hotels And More

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

New reports show that President Donald Trump tried to register his trademark in Cuba in 2008. The revelation shows another contradiction from President Trump who promised not to do business in Cuba until the island was a free democracy. The news comes just one week into Hispanic Heritage Month and has left some on social media questioning President Trump’s commitment to Cuban-Americans.

A new Miami Herald story is shining a light on Trump’s attempted business dealings in Cuba.

The story highlights President Trump’s hypocrisy and frequent contradictions throughout his life. The president’s attempted business dealings in Cuba came after he told the Cuban American National Foundation that he would not. During a 1999 speech, President Trump promised that he would not do business in Cuba until the island and the people were free.

For some, the revelation comes as a reminder of President Trump’s record with the Latino community. Latinos have been a constant target for Trump’s attacks since he called Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals when announcing his candidacy in 2015.

The news has angered Latinos who see the gesture as a sign of betrayal.

“I’ve had a lot of offers and, sadly, it’s all be very recently, to go into Cuba on deals. Business deals, real estate, and other deals,” Trump said at the 1999 speech in front of the Cuban American National Foundation. “I’ve rejected them on the basis that I will go when Cuba is free.”

Ana Navarro-Cárdenas, Republican political pundit and outspoken Trump critic, did not hold back.

Navarro-Cárdenas is one Republican who has long stood up against President Trump. Her tweets highlighted the fact that President Trump didn’t try to do business in Cuba just once. There are several instances that show that the president tried to make business happen in Cuba.

“Putting money and investing money in Cuba right now doesn’t go to the people of Cuba,” Trump told the audience in 1999. “It goes into the pockets of Fidel Castro.”

People are not completely shocked by the news.

The Trump administration has also been tied to the Cuban government. Earlier this year, news surfaced that Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, met with “Castro’s son” in Cuba. The meeting happened in 2017 just days before the inauguration. Emails show Manafort trying to relay information from “Castro’s son” to Kathleen T. McFarland, who would go on to be the Deputy National Security Advisor for the Trump administration.

The 2020 election is going to be one of the most important elections in our lifetime. Make sure you and your friends are registered to vote and commit them to voting. You can go to IWillVote.com or VoyaVotar.com and text TODOS to 30330 today to learn what choices you have to vote in your community and get information on where and when to vote.

You vote is your voice. Make sure you use it this election. So many have fought for your right to vote.

READ: Latinos For Trump Posted A Collage Of Flag For Hispanic Heritage Month And Got Some Wrong

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Cuba Locks Down Havana To Stop Covid-19 As Cubans Struggle To Afford Everyday Items

Things That Matter

Cuba Locks Down Havana To Stop Covid-19 As Cubans Struggle To Afford Everyday Items

Ivan Bor / Getty Images

Cuba has been one of the hemisphere’s coronavirus success stories — but a sudden outbreak in its capital has brought on a strict, two-week Havana lockdown. Residents of the capital city will be forced to stay-at-home for 15-days, while people from other parts of the island ill be prohibited from visiting – essentially sealing off the city from the outside world.

Meanwhile, the Coronavirus pandemic has pummeled the island’s economy and has left many everyday items out of reach for many Cubans. Some are being forced to turn to ‘dollar stores,’ where the U.S. dollar is once again accepted as hard currency – something now allowed since 1993.

Officials have ordered a strict 15-day lockdown of Havana in an effort to stamp out the spread of Coronavirus in the capital.

Aggressive anti-virus measures, including closing down air travel, have virtually eliminated COVID-19 in Cuba with the exception of Havana, where cases have surged from a handful a day to dozens daily over the last month. 

A daily curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. was instituted Tuesday. Most stores are barred from selling to shoppers from outside the immediate neighborhood in order to discourage people from moving around the city. 

Some Havana residents complained that the measures were complicating the already difficult task of buying food in a city hit by constant shortages and endless lines for a limited supply of basic goods. Some provinces that saw no new cases for weeks have begun detecting them in recent days, often linked to travelers from Havana.

The start of in-person classes for students was also indefinitely delayed in Havana, while schools opened normally in the rest of Cuba.

To enforce the lockdown, police stationed on every road leaving Havana are supposed to stop anyone who doesn’t have a special travel permit, which is meant to be issued only in extraordinary circumstances.

Under the strict new lockdown measures, anyone who is found in violation of the stay-at-home orders face fines of up to $125 per violation, more than triple the average monthly wage.

The island nation had seemed to manage the pandemic well – with fewer cases than many of its Caribbean neighbors.

Credit: Ivan Bor / Getty Images

The island of 11 million people has reported slightly more than 4,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, with fewer than 100 deaths, one of the lowest rates in the region.

The government made face masks obligatory in the early stages of its pandemic response, and in the first months of the crisis police aggressively fined and even jailed people for violations. 

That vigilance slackened somewhat as Havana moved out of the first, strictest phase of lockdown in July, when public transportation restarted and people returned to work. The number of coronavirus cases then began to climb again.

Meanwhile, the Cuban economy has tanked and residents are struggling to make ends meet now more than ever before.

Credit: Yamil Lage / Getty Images

The pandemic has hit the island’s economy particularly hard. Much of the island relies on agricultural and tourism – two sectors that have been decimated by Coronavirus.

As a result, many Cubans are struggling to afford everyday items. Rice – which used to sell for about $13 Cuban pesos per kilo is now going for triple that.

In an effort to allow Cubans better access to goods, the government has began recognizing the U.S. dollar as official currency. This is extraordinary as mere possession of U.S. dollars was long considered a criminal offense. However, the measure draws a line between the haves and have-nots, one that runs even deeper than it did before the pandemic.

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