As the situation spirals out of control in Cuba, residents of Florida are attempting food and supply runs to aid pro-democracy demonstrators in the communist state with their own boats.
According to a CBS affiliate in Miami, a large party of boaters left Monday for the island carrying food, water, and medicine.
“We are just bringing supplies. They are trying to create a group to take on water, food, medicine, whatever we can to take a Cuba,” Dennis Suayero told the outlet. “We are just waiting for the approval so we can enter and give it to them.”
Despite the US Coast Guard’s caution not to try unapproved journeys to Cuba, boaters are attempting the journey.
“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 Coast Guard said in a statement Monday. “The transit is dangerous and unforgiving as nearly 20 lives were tragically lost in recent weeks as a result of these dangerous voyages.”
The improvised relief runs coincide with reports that the Cuban government is violently suppressing major democracy movements. Over the weekend, demonstrators filled the streets of Cuba, demanding an end to the island’s harsh communist rule. According to accounts, the government has responded by “arresting, assaulting, and killing” protestors.
President Miguel Dáz-Canel of Cuba has warned demonstrators, urging them to return home and put an end to any pro-democracy activities. According to reports, the president is preparing a “civil war” in the country between demonstrators and supporters of the regime.
In a speech from the Senate floor on Monday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) called for further US assistance in Cuba’s democratic struggle. Rubio, who is of Cuban origin, urged President Joe Biden to make it a “top priority” to provide “free, unrestricted open internet access to the people of Cuba,” which the Cuban government has blocked due to the turmoil.
“The first lesson we need to take away from it is that Marxism, socialism, doesn’t work,” Rubio said. “The way socialism, the way Marxism has always worked, the way it’s always empowered itself, is it goes to the people and immediately divides them. It says there is an oppressor class and that there is this victim class and these evil oppressors, capitalists, in the case of socialism or traditional Marxism, they oppress the victims.”