"Amigo Skate, Cuba": changing young lives through skateboards

October 8, 2020 | Skateboarding
Cuba: skateboarding is not an officially recognized sport

"Amigo Skate, Cuba" is a documentary that follows Cuba's ban on skateboards and one group's mission to inspire at-risk youth through their love of skate culture.

Skateboards are contraband in Cuba, but for 40 years, an underground skate culture continued to survive on splintered decks and worn-out wheels.

Now, Cuba's renegade skaters are teaming up with a charity group out of Miami that smuggles skateboards into the blockaded country.

Although risk is involved, the mission remains: overcome old prejudices and build a skate park in Havana to inspire Cuba's at-risk youth.

"What do we do? If Joe Ramone and Mother Theresa had a love child, that's what we do. We just want to help kids," says Rene Lecour, the founder of Amigo Skate Cuba.

Getting skateboards and skate gear into the Caribbean nation isn't easy. Nevertheless, there are tricks and special clothing that can be used.

"We can't put the gear on a cargo ship or mail it because of the restrictions. So what do we do?" notes Lecour.

"There's a bunch of old ladies that go to Cuba all the time, and they're constantly taking things to their families. How do they do it?"

The charity crew did the same.

They took the skateboards out of conventional boxes, put them in bags with their clothes, and tried their luck.

Amigo Skate, Cuba: a documentary about the Cuban skateboarding scene

Skateboarding Might Be a Crime

Skateboards are a rare item in Cuba.

"When you break your board in Cuba, it's pretty much death because breaking a board here means you'll be without your board, and you have to wait until a new one shows up," explains a local skater.

"This means you could be waiting for two, three, four, or even five months."

The documentary unveils what skateboarding in Cuba is. And the truth is raw and challenging. But it also reveals the locals' passion for the sport.

The Amigo Skate Cuba team eventually finds a way to get donated gear into Cuban territory.

"To be honest, it was completely illegal what we did. It was all a gamble, but we went through. At the same time, we're not doing anything to hurt anybody. We're just helping kids," stresses Rene Lecour.

"Amigo Skate, Cuba" is a 73-minute documentary by Vanesa Wilkey-Escobar that offers an in-depth portrait of the country's skateboarding scene.

In the end, the ultimate goal is to build a skatepark approved by the Cuban government. Can they do it? And how will they do it?

The inspiring film skates into select theaters on October 20, 2020, and arrives on DVD and digital platforms on November 3.

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