Embargo-Shmargo. It's time to export some skateboards to Cuba. After all, there's nothing like a little shredding to show islanders what freedom is all about. Though there may be some time before Fidel and Raul take their long awaited dirt naps, a group of Miami skaters are committed to getting Cuba's fledgling skateboarding scene the equipment it needs now.
Miami skaters sometimes have to fight to get new skate parks in their neighborhood, but in Cuba just getting a skateboard can take half a year or longer. That's why Rene Lecour, owner of several skate shops in Miami, is organizing a Got Skate fundraiser to collect boards and equipment ahead of a planned trip to the island-nation. The event takes place Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Lecour's Country Village Skatepark in Hialeah. There will be a S.K.A.T.E contest (think H.O.R.S.E. like in hoops) and a $100 best trick contest.
Lecour is collecting new and used board to go along with the equipment he will be donating and what skateboard company sponsors will give. In six months, Lecour and a group of about 10 will travel to Cuba with all the boards they can fit in overhead compartments.
The Miami skater first thought about helping his fellow shredders in Cuba get some new boards after he and his 16-year old son watched a documentary on skateboarding in Cuba made by a couple of Englishmen, of all people. The Cuban Skateboarding Crisis video is below.
"What really got us is the scene in the movie where a skater talks about how hard it is to get a board when they break one," Lecour says. They resolved to do something about it and the Got Skate event was their answer. Lecour insists that his mission is not to make a political statement but just to get equipment to those who don't have it.
His efforts are starting to gather steam as local pro skaters have signed on to help raise awareness and there is even talk of some musical acts joining the trip to Cuba to perform, although Lecour admits that such a plan could raise red flags among Cuban officials. "The last thing we want to do is start any trouble," he says, adding that his plans shouldn't raise too much suspicion for Cuban authorities since they view skateboards as little more than toys.
The Got Skate event takes place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Country Village Skatepark (6550 NW 188th Tr., Hialeah). It's free to watch, $5 to skate, and $10 to compete. Call 786-537-2016 or visit sugardropshop.com.