Yaya Guerrero Fights for Surfing to Be Legitimized in Cuba in ‘Havana Libre’

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After the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro was once quoted as saying that sports should be “the right of the people.” But for surfers on the tropical island, the sport they have dedicated their lives to isn’t considered a sport at all.

In the new documentary Havana Libre, filmmakers explore the history of surfing in Cuba and why the government frowns on its citizens participating in the activity. The film also follows a group of Cuban surfers who are making a stand and demanding their country legitimize surfing as a sport, so they can compete in the Olympics.

One of these athletes is Yaya Guerrero, who is one of Cuba’s only two female surfers. She participated in the film because she wants people to be aware that while there are only a few surfers in Cuba, those who take it seriously should be given the opportunity to compete in a sport that defines who they are.

“We wanted to show all the countries around the world that we have a good wave,” Guerrero told Remezcla during a recent interview. “We have the desire for the sport.”

While Guerrero is excited that the upcoming summer Olympics this year will include surfing for the very first time in its history, she is saddened by the fact that Cuba will not be a part of the event.

“It’s a shame that we don’t have a surfer who is representing our
country,” she said. “That was our dream that we could participate. Maybe the kids in the future will get that chance.”

Now in her mid-30s, Guerrero will never get the opportunity to represent Cuba on the big stage, but she is working hard as an activist for the sport. She hopes a film like Havana Libre will help pave the way for others to see how important the surf culture in Cuba is to surfers like her.

“I want people to know about the passion we have for surfing,” Guerrero said.

Havana Libre made its world premiere at the 2021 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival last week. Tickets can still be purchased to watch the film online through the festival’s screening platform until Tuesday (Feb. 23). See the trailer for Havana Libre here.