July 14th., 1997
Cuba Exiles Mark Tugboat Sinking
.c The Associated Press
MIAMI (AP) - Cuban exiles marked the 1994 sinking of a tugboat that killed
41 Cubans but were without their leader Sunday, whose vessel was confiscated by
U.S. authorities after he promised to enter Cuba's waters.
Ramon Saul Sanchez, head of the group Democracy Movement, began chugging
toward Cuba at about midnight Saturday when U.S. Marshals and Coast Guard
officials ordered him off his boat.
``They said if I got on another boat, they'd confiscate that too,'' he said
Sunday from Key West.
The rest of the flotilla made it to its destination in the waters off Cuba
without incident. Members of the group lay flowers in the water, sang the Cuban
national anthem, and chanted ``Free Cuba'' - all under the watch of three Coast
On July 13, 1994, Cuban authorities sank the tugboat carrying about 70
people attempting to flee the island. Forty-one people, including many children,
Authorities escorted Sanchez's 30-foot craft, Democracia, to Key West. He
was free to go, but his boat remained under lock and key Sunday.
``He has been told that by entering the Cuban territorial seas without
permission from Cuba he was putting himself and others at personal risk,'' said
Coast Guard Petty Officer Veronica Bandrowsky.
The Democracia was leading a convoy of 14 boats to 12 miles off the Cuban
coast - the point where Cuban territorial waters ends - as part of the group's
regular protests against the communist government of Cuban President Fidel
But unlike previous flotillas, Sanchez intended to motor to the site within
Cuban waters where the tugboat was sunk.