MIAMI (WSVN) - Reactions among Cuban Americans in South Florida to President Joe Biden’s announcement of sanctions against individual members of Cuba’s regime ranged from cautious optimism to disappointment.
The commander in chief’s announcement on Thursday comes as hundreds of boaters prepare to set sail to bring their message of solidarity closer to the island nation.
Biden said the first two sanctions were issued against Cuban Minister of Defense Alvaro Lopez Miera and against a special brigade with the Cuban Ministry of the Interior.
The sanctions, coming after nearly two weeks of demonstrations calling for action by the U.S. government, will allow the president to freeze assets and block travel to the U.S.
The administration is targeting officials who are responsible for committing human rights violations.
Cuban Americans who spoke to 7News had mixed reactions to the announcement.
Some said it’s a step in the right direction.
“I think the president knows what he’s doing,” said Georgina Trujillo.
Others said it’s just not enough.
“In my opinion, it appears to be just a Band-Aid. What Cubans are demanding more than anything else is freedom,” said Raul Garcia.
As protests against Cuban leaders continue in South Florida, some hope to take that energy closer to the island.
Organizers are planning a flotilla with around 100 boats to show support to the people in Cuba.
“We want the world to see us and see what’s going on,” said organizer Osdany Veloz.
On Friday, they plan to get as close to the island as possible while staying on international waters. The boaters plan to send up flares and fireworks.
“They’ve been shut off as far as internet access and stuff like that, so me and a couple of friends, we thought it was a great idea to go off international waters and be able to show support with fireworks, flares, and actually let them know that we’re there,” said Veloz.
Organizers said they want those still living in fear to physically see people haven’t forgotten about them and that they are not giving up the fight.
Local leaders in Miami also made their voices heard. City officials signed a resolution as the demand for democracy continues.
“Urging the president of the United States to take all necessary actions to help the Cuban people find liberty in their country,” said City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.
Biden also put out a statement that reads in part, “We will work closely with our partners throughout the region, including the Organization of American States, to pressure the regime to immediately release wrongfully detained political prisoners, restore internet access, and allow the Cuban people to enjoy their fundamental rights.”
City of Miami commissioners said issuing the sanctions was the right move, but they feel Biden still has a lot of work to do to continue the fight for the Cuban people.
Organizers of the flotilla said they will be hitting the water from the marina at Bayside at around 7 a.m. on Friday. The boaters plan to make a short stop in Key West and then start their journey toward Cuba.
In order to abide by maritime law, the boaters will have to stay 50 nautical miles off the coast of Havana, Cuba.
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