Cuban exiles to launch flotilla protesting Putin's visit to the communist island

The Associated Press
July 12, 2014 11:05 AM

KEY WEST, Fla. - A group of Cuban exiles has launched its flotilla from Key West.

Organizers say three boats carrying 30 to 40 people left around 1 p.m. Saturday heading for the waters just off of Cuba.

It was initially planned as the commemoration of the drowning of Cuban migrants who fled the communist island in 1994. Survivors said Cuban coast guard vessels rammed their boat off the coast of Havana, spraying them with fire hoses. Organizers added Putin to their objections, noting the Soviet Union provided military aid to Cuba throughout the Cold War and the potential for Moscow to renew its military presence there.

Putin is touring Latin America en route to Brazil for the ceremonial hand-off of World Cup hosting duties. Russia hosts next in 2018.

The State Department says it's aware of the flotilla and that organizers have been urged to comply with all laws or face punishment. It says organizers have assured federal authorities they will remain in international waters and not enter Cuban territory during the event.

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