Cubans living in exile marked the upcoming International Human Rights Day on Friday by sailing a flotilla of boats about 20 kilometres off the coast of the capital Havana.
On the eve of the day to commemorate the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Cuba’s Ladies in White were prevented from holding a march by government supporters, who protested outside a house where a meeting was being held.
The women are the wives and girlfriends of jailed dissidents. They had planned to gather along the shore in Havana to see a firework display put on by the exiles on the flotilla.
To prevent people gathering and the event becoming an attraction, authorities closed off parts of the city’s Malecon Boulevard, but that did not put off some people like one man who said: “I think it’s a good thing because I have family in the United States. I wish they were out there on the boats firing fireworks, and that I could respond to them with fireworks from here. In that way, we could unite.”
The flotilla of at least four boats left from Florida and was organised by the Miami-based Democracy Movement, a group that helps Cubans arriving in the American city.
Cuba’s government branded the flotilla a provocation.