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Small Flotilla Leaves Miami For Cuba Despite Homeland Security Warning

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The planned Freedom Flotilla was on its way Friday afternoon from Key West to the international waters near Cuba.

Their mission was to let those on the island know that South Florida is with them.

"A lot of us came over here on something like this," says Luis Machado, boater.

Machado made a pit stop in Key West to fuel up before heading for the Florida straits.

CBS4 News was there as some of the planned flotilla pulled into the Stock Island Marina just after 2p.m.

"I'm just hurt for the Cuban people, and I just want to help get their message out here and this is one of the ways i can do it," says Machado.

The plan is to set off flares and fireworks at sunset before returning to Key West and then Miami.

Around 8 a.m. Friday, a few boats left Miami's Bayside Marina -- the start for some in the protest at sea.

"We were expecting a lot more people, I'm not going to lie to you," says Osdany Veloz, organizer.

Flotilla
One of only 3 boats to show up early Friday, July 23, for planned flotilla to Cuba. (CBS4)

Veloz was hoping to see one hundred boats, but just a few were seen leaving Key West.

"I'm not disappointed, I was going to go by myself because we said we were going to go do it, and we're going to do it," says Veloz.

For some this flotilla to stand in solidarity is personal.

"This is going to be as close as I've ever been to Cuba," says Marco Suarez.

These boaters are concerned about their family on the island, as Cuba is facing its worst economic crisis in decades.

Boaters tell CBS 4 News they will be staying well away from the Cuban waters and will remain in international waters.

Some of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary also met with these boaters to make sure they were prepared and safe on the journey.

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