Three boats in a flotilla organized by Movimento Democracia, an American group demanding immediate democracy in Cuba, sailed from Key West, Fla., Saturday evening to within territorial waters claimed by Cuba. They then voluntarily pulled back to international waters, beyond the 13-mile mark, and launched fireworks in a "Lights of Freedom" display to highlight the lack of freedom of Cuban civil society and the government's censorship of Internet access, the Miami-based newspaper El Nuevo Herald reported Monday.
The Cuban government objected to the boats' presence and the U.S. Coast Guard was instructed to keep the protesters a "prudent" distance away from Cuba, the newspaper said.
"We will stay at 13 miles because we don't want to cause problems. This is a totally pacifist event to express solidarity with the Cuban people," movement leader Ramon Saul Sanchez said.
The event was the 16th expedition to the edge of Cuban waters by the group, and only the third using fireworks, in the hope that Havana residents could see the lights, the newspaper said.
"It has been a beautiful spectacle," said activist and voyager Jose Aguilar, after the demonstration.