Exile group abandons attempt to reach Cuba
January 25, 1998
A boat carrying 40 people heads back to Florida after
the group conducted prayer services at the edge of Cuban
territorial water Saturday.
Web posted at: 1:52 p.m. EST (1852 GMT)
MARATHON, Florida (CNN) -- Cuban exile Ramon Saul Sanchez has
ended his effort to sail to Cuba because of mechanical
problems, a spokesman for Sanchez's Democracy Movement said
Sanchez and three other members of the Miami-based Democracy
Movement left the Florida coast early Saturday with the
stated goal of reaching Cuba. The 35-foot boat lost its
steering Saturday night and was forced to limp back to Miami,
according to Democracy Movement Executive Director
Norman Del Valle.
The boat, dubbed "The Human Rights," encountered high winds
and 8-foot seas, said Del Valle. There is no word on how
close to the Cuban shore the vessel came before turning
A second vessel with 40 people aboard returned to Florida
after conducting prayer services at the edge of Cuban
territorial water on Saturday. Several small airplanes also
neared the edge of Cuban airspace to fly over the boats.
The spokesman said Sanchez's voyage was aimed at
protesting Pope John Paul II's visit to Cuba and calling
attention to the Democracy Movement.
In the past, Cuba has handled some exiles' entry into Cuban
territorial waters with force. In 1995, when another
Democracy Movement boat approached the edge of Cuban waters,
it was rammed by a Cuban Coast Guard vessel, resulting
in minor injuries.
In January 1996, two Brothers to the Rescue planes were shot
down by Cuban jet fighters as they flew near the edge of
Cuban air space. All four people on board the planes were