The Department of Homeland Security reminded Floridians ahead of a flotilla scheduled to travel near Cuba on Thursday that it was “illegal” to travel to the island nation without permission from the federal government.
“It is illegal for boaters to depart with the intent to travel to Cuba for any purpose without a permit,” the department said in an advisory, noting that penalties could include fines of $25,000 per day and up to 10 years in prison.
If at least 100 boaters show up, Cuban South Florida residents are planning to sail from the United States’ southernmost point in Key West on Thursday to within 12 miles of Cuba’s border — technically in international waters — to show support for the country’s protesters.
“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,” a coordinator for the flotilla, 24-year-old Osdany Veloz, told The Daily Mail. However, he said, “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.