A flotilla left Key West Tuesday on a 160-mile trip to launch fireworks off the coast of Cuba to show support for the people of the island nation.
“The pope is visiting Cuba and we want to welcome him as exiles,” Ramón Saúl Sánchez, leader of the Democracy Movement, was quoted by The Miami Herald as saying. “And we also want to support the Cuban people who have been subjected to a 53-year dictatorship that beats up the women in white and murders dissidents and keeps Cuban families divided. We want to pray for those things to stop in Cuba and also open up the way to democracy.”
A second flotilla planned for Tuesday night will most likely be canceled due to rough seas, The Miami Herald reported.
The crews of the flotilla will launch yellow and white fireworks, which they expect will be seen by three provinces in Cuba.
The fireworks will “symbolize a bridge of light and communication of two sides of a divided nation,” Sánchez was quoted as saying. “It also will light up the road to democracy in Cuba.”
The Coast Guard inspected all five vessels before their voyage and will also monitor the boats on their way to the shore of the island, according to the newspaper.
People in Cuba are also expected to approach the seawall with candles during the fireworks.
“I did it because of God, of Cuba, and for my father who was killed by Castro in Cuba — not for myself,” Cuban exile Nilo Hernandez was quoted as saying.