Cuba skates: What U.S.-Cuba relations could mean for a niche youth scene in Havana

Cuban skateboarders manage to catch some air with very few skate supplies available on the island. But Cuba Skate, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that works to bring skate gear and culture to Cuba, might get a boost from the latest thaw in relations
HAVANA — In the seven months since the U.S. and Cuba declared detente, American politicians have flooded Havana to see the sights, meet the country’s new entrepreneurs and discuss the possible end of the U.S. trade embargo with leaders of the communist government.

Their agendas have also featured an increasingly conspicuous hole — the spot once occupied by U.S.-backed dissidents who then sat at the center of Washington’s policy on Cuba.

According to an Associated Press count confirmed by leading dissidents, more than 20 U.S. lawmakers have come to Cuba since February without meeting with opposition groups that once were an obligatory stop for congressional delegations.

Advocates of President Barack Obama’s outreach to Cuba say it’s a more intelligent way to push for democratic reform on the island. After decades of fruitlessly trying to strengthen the government’s opponents, they see diplomatic engagement as the best method for persuading Cuba it’s time to open the political system and keep loosening control of the centrally planned economy.
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