Florida residents are using their own boats to attempt food and supply runs to aid pro-democracy protesters in Cuba.
A large group of boaters left Monday for the island packed with food, water, and medicine, according to a CBS affiliate in Miami.
“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.”
Boaters are attempting the trip despite a warning from the U.S. Coast Guard not to attempt unsanctioned trips to Cuba.
“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 aid runs come as the Cuban government is reportedly violently cracking down on massive democracy demonstrations. Protesters flooded Cuban streets over the weekend calling for an end to the island’s oppressive communist regime. The government has responded by “arresting, beating, and killing” protesters, according to reports.
Cuba’s President Miguel Díaz-Canel has threatened protesters to return to their homes and end all pro-democracy demonstrations. Reports said that the president is setting up a “civil war” in the country between the protesters and the regime’s supporters.
“The order to fight has been given – into the street, revolutionaries!” Diaz-Canal said Sunday. “We are calling on all the revolutionaries in the country, all the Communists, to hit the streets wherever there is an effort to produce these provocations.”
“We are not going to hand over the sovereignty or the independence of the people,” he said. “There are many revolutionaries in this country who are willing to give our lives, we are willing to do anything, and we will be in the streets fighting.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) pressed for more U.S. involvement in the struggle for democracy in Cuba in a speech from the Senate floor on Monday. Rubio, who is of Cuban descent, called on President Joe Biden to make it a “top priority to allow the people of Cuba to have free, unfettered open internet access,” which the Cuban government has blacked out amid the unrest.
“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.”
“And when it can’t deliver the security, you don’t get your freedom back. And in fact, when you start to complain about that, that is when the repression comes,” he continued. “That’s what’s happened in Cuba.”