As unprecedented, large-scale protests in Cuba driven by economic instability and food and fuel shortages also amid a deeply mismanaged pandemic response continue, the US Coast Guard has a message for Cubans wishing to flee the increasingly chaotic Communist-ruled island: don't come.
"Please don’t take to the sea," Rear Admiral Eric C. Jones said in a statement. "The Coast Guard along with our local, state and federal partners are monitoring any activity" that looks suspicious or unsafe in the Florida straits "including unpermitted vessel departures from Florida to Cuba."
But the words also appear aimed at anti-Communist "freedom" networks in Florida. The warning was issued Monday night amid declarations by Cuban-American activist groups which have a large and very visible presence in south Florida that they plan to travel in boats to "supply" and "support" protesting Cubans.
According to a south Florida NBC affiliate:
Groups in South Florida are gathering supplies and hoping to bring them by boat to those in need in Cuba amid the recent protests.
Nearly 100 boaters gathered Monday at the 79th Street Marina in North Bay Village, bringing supplies like water, food and medicine that they want to take to the island nation and its people if they are allowed in.
According to Fox News, just within the past days the "dangerous and unforgiving" waters off Florida have resulted in disasters with loss of life. A prior weekend Coast Guard statement pointed to almost 20 lives "tragically lost in recent weeks as a result of these dangerous voyages."
And on Saturday "the Coast Guard announced that it ended the search for nine Cubans who were missing after a boat capsized off Florida’s coast. Thirteen people were rescued. The survivors said they left Cuba on Monday night with 22 people aboard," Fox wrote.
The unprecedented protests have gripped dozens of cities even as government authorities in Havana have sought to black out popular social media apps and websites in order to halt activist communications.
Coast Guard Warning Isn’t Stopping Local Boat Owners From Attempting To Take Supplies To Cuba https://t.co/6NQ88smdK3— CBS4 Miami (@CBSMiami) July 13, 2021
Cuba's President and Communist Party chief Miguel Diaz-Canel has also called on "revolutionary" citizens to counter the protests which he said are led by "vulgar criminals" and orchestrated by the United States.
There's increasingly been violent clashes and rioting in some locales. Should the situation spiral further out of control, it's expected large boatloads of refugees could be trying to arrive at the American coast in droves, akin to the 1994 Cuban Raft Exodus under Castro, which saw some 35,000 flee the island amid dangerous conditions in make-shift boats and rafts.