According to Mediaite, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is telling Floridians planning a flotilla to international waters near Cuba that they could face stiff fines and jail time for doing so, citing U.S. federal law.
“It is illegal for boaters to depart with the intent to travel to Cuba for any purpose without a permit,” a DHS advisory said. Violators could face a $25,000 per day fine and up to 10 years in prison, along with the seizure of their boats.
“The Coast Guard urges South Florida recreational boaters considering transiting toward Cuban territorial waters to ‘not take to the sea,'” the U.S Coast Guard said in a press release announcing the advisory.
A group of Floridians wants to take dozens of boats from Key West to roughly 12 miles off the shore of Cuba and shoot flares off at night to show solidarity with Cubans taking part in mass protests over freedom issues.
“We realize the danger”
“We are trying to show a peaceful protest against this regime. To show the people that we are with them, that we want to help them, that we have seen what is happening with the protests and we support the movement,” one coordinator of the flotilla, Osdany Veloz, told The Daily Mail. He added, “If Cuban authorities open up and let us through, then we will definitely go in and hand over anything useful that we have on board.”
“We realize the danger,” Veloz, who said he arrived in the U.S. as a toddler, said. “But we are trying to follow the rules and guidelines and make it safe for everyone. Everyone who is going has families here, most have families there in Cuba. They don’t want to risk anything. We want to get it done the right way.”
If they can round up at least 100 boats, they originally planned to set sail on Tuesday but went on to postpone their planned excursion to launch on Thursday, according to CBS Miami.
What’s happening in Cuba?
The protests in Cuba began on July 11 in response to shortages of basic supplies across the island. There have only been spotty internet connections in the country since the protests began, as the government cut access when the protests grew in size.
Miami is home to the largest group of Cuban exiles in the country, and thousands have been rallying in the streets since the protests in the communist nation began.
Progressive Democrats have generally supported the protests by the Cuban people, even though some of those Democrats agree with many of Cuba’s socialist policies that are causing a bulk of the problems and distress.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said last week, as Fox News noted, that the U.S. should lift sanctions on Cuba while blaming the U.S. government and former President Donald Trump’s policies for the problems Cuba is currently experiencing. “We also call for an end to the U.S. embargo and additional Trump-era restrictions that are profoundly contributing to the suffering of Cubans,” the lawmaker said.