Small Flotilla Leaves Miami For Cuba Despite Homeland Security Warning – CBS Miami

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The scheduled Freedom Flotilla was en route from Key West to international waters near Cuba on Friday afternoon.

Their mission was to let the islanders know that South Florida is with them.

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“A lot of us came here for something like this,” says Luis Machado, boat driver.

Machado made a pit stop in Key West to refuel before heading into the Florida Straits.

CBS4 News was there when some of the planned flotilla entered the Stock Island Marina shortly after 2 p.m.

“I’m just sorry for the Cuban people and I just want to help get their message here, and that’s one of the ways I can do that,” says Machado.

The plan is to light torches and fireworks at sunset before returning to Key West and then Miami.

A couple of boats left Miami’s Bayside Marina at around 8 a.m. on Friday, kicking off some of the protests at sea.

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“We were expecting a lot more people, I’m not going to lie to you,” says Osdany Veloz, organizer.

One of 6 boats to appear early Friday, July 23rd, for the planned flotilla to Cuba. (CBS4)

Veloz had hoped to see a hundred boats, but few were seen leaving Key West.

“I’m not disappointed, I wanted to go alone because we said we would do it and we will,” says Veloz.

For some, this flotilla of standing in solidarity is personal.

“It will be closer to Cuba than ever before,” says Marco Suarez.

These boaters worry about their families on the island as Cuba faces its worst economic crisis in decades.

Boaters tell CBS 4 News that they will stay away from Cuban waters and will stay in international waters.

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Some of the U.S. Coast Guard auxiliaries also met with these boaters to make sure they were prepared and safe for the trip.

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