Coast Guard Warns Florida Cubans Against 'Dangerous' Trip Back to Island to Aid Protesters

The United States Coast Guard in Miami warned Cuban Americans living in Florida against making the "dangerous" trip back to Cuba to aid the street protestors in a statement posted to social media.

"As a humanitarian organization with a core mission of protecting lives at-sea, we echo the message of many U.S. leaders in the support of the Cuban people exercising their fundamental right of freedom of expression and assembly, but also remind anyone considering a migrant voyage to not take to the sea," the statement reads.

"The transit is dangerous and unforgiving as nearly 20 lives were tragically lost in recent weeks as a result of these dangerous voyages."

Many Cuban Americans have still voiced their desire to make the journey in order to aid the protestors in Cuba, asking for assistance and boats from Miami locals in order to make the journey.

The Coast Guard seemed unlikely to grant permission to those wanting to make the trip, reiterating a reminder at the end of its statement, asking once again for those planning a trip to Cuba: "Please don't take to the sea."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Cuba flag
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 13: Cuban Americans demonstrate outside the White House in support of demonstrations taking place in Cuba on July 12, 2021 in Washington, DC. Cuban Americans living in Southern Florida requested aid from Miami locals to make a trip back to Cuba with supplies to aid the protestors, which the U.S. Coast Guard warned against, calling it a "dangerous" journey. Win McNamee/Getty Images

South Florida has the country's largest population of Cuban Americans.

In Miami, Cuban social media personalities posted Monday that they would make the 10-hour boat ride to Cuba to show support after rare street protests broke out over the weekend, the Miami Herald reported.

The influencers said they would bring aid — and guns — and urged people in Miami to offer up their boats.

One group gathered Monday night at Pelican Harbor Marina near Miami's North Bay Village, and people brought cases of bottled water, flashlights and boxes of canned Chef Boyardee pasta, the newspaper reported.

"Water, food, medicine, whatever we can take to Cuba. Whatever we can take to help is good," organizer Dennis Suayero told WSVN.

The group didn't get very far on a rainy Monday night.

A message posted on organizer Santiago Rivera's Instagram account early Tuesday said the Coast Guard stopped his group from crossing the Straits because of "problems with firearms." He promised they would try again to leave Wednesday morning "with the permission of the authorities of this country."

The Coast Guard statement suggested that such permission would not be forthcoming. It said the Coast Guard is working with state, local and federal partners to monitor "unpermitted vessel departures from Florida to Cuba."

Rivera's post thanked people supporting the mission and said Cubans are determining their destiny and losing their fear. "This isn't politics, this is brotherhood, this is humanity and common sense, proud to be cuban for my land I give my life," his post said.

Thousands of Cuban Americans also gathered in Little Havana over the weekend, expressing support for the Cubans who joined street marches against high prices and food shortages on the island. Such unsanctioned protests are extremely rare, and Cuban police were out in force on Monday to control them.

The last such demonstrations in Havana happened nearly 30 years ago, in 1994. President Miguel Díaz-Canel accusing Cuban Americans of using social media to egg them on.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, a Cuban American, tweeted that he has never "felt such raw emotion from the people of Miami desperate for intervention by the government and by themselves on behalf of Cuba." He added that "this is the moment of freedom" for Cuba.

Little Havana Protestors
Cuban exiles rally at Versailles Restaurant in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood in support of protesters in Cuba, Monday, July 12, 2021, in Miami. Sunday's protests in Cuba marked some of the biggest displays of antigovernment sentiment in the tightly controlled country in years. Marta Lavandier/AP Photo