MIAMI (CBSMiami / AP) – The US Department of Homeland Security has issued a warning to South Florida boaters planning to participate in a flotilla next week to Cuba.

“It is illegal for boaters to leave with the intention of going to Cuba for any purpose without a permit,” according to a notice they released Thursday.

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DHS said in the advisory that any boater intending to enter Cuban territorial waters must obtain permission from the US Coast Guard. Violators face fines of $ 25,000 a day and 10 years in prison, according to the notice.

People who illegally bring foreign nationals into the United States face fines of up to $ 250,000 a day and five years in prison, the department said.

According to Osdany Veloz, an organizer of boaters, the goal of the trip planned for next Monday is to go to international waters near the island, but not to cross Cuban waters, to let the islanders know that they have supporters in South Florida.

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Organizers said they would depart from South Florida if 100 boaters showed up.

“The goal is to stay at the border, not to break in, to stay in international waters and just let the Cuban people know that we are also fighting for their freedom, so that once and for all they can to be a free country, ”said Jorge Lopez, who plans to make the trip.

Thousands of Cubans took to the streets last weekend to protest against limited access to COVID-19 vaccines and basic commodities. The country is going through its worst economic crisis in decades.

The protests in the island nation have sparked a surge of support in Florida, which is home to the country’s largest Cuban exile community. Crowds of people in Miami, Orlando and the Tampa area have rallied for their support, sometimes closing major thoroughfares.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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