MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — To mark the United Nation’s International Human Rights Day, a coalition of Cuban exile groups are headed across the Florida Straits to protest off the coast of Cuba.

The group left Key West Friday around 9:30 a.m. and planned to anchor its small flotilla about 12 miles off the coast of Havana.

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The protesters, led by organizer Ramon Saul Sanchez, said they will follow U.S. Department of State warnings not to enter Cuban territory.

“We’re not provoking anyone,” Sanchez said. “We’re just exercising our right in international waters to protest the state policy in Cuba of beating up women and refusing to begin the democratization process.”

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About 50 people were aboard six boats. Cuba calls the demonstration a provocation. The exile groups say they are exercising their rights to freedom of expression and simply want to show peaceful solidarity with Cuban activists. They are planning a fireworks show and hope the act with spark the curiosity of Cubans on the island.

The Coast Guard is patrolling the area but said it would not interfere with legitimate law enforcement action by the Cuban government.

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