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Cuban Exiles Hold Ocean Memorial

July 10, 1999

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) _ A flotilla made up of dozens of Cuban exiles conducted a memorial in international waters off Havana on Saturday to mark the five-year anniversary of the sinking of a tugboat filled with people trying to flee the communist country.

The Democracy Movement, a Miami-based anti-Castro exile group, organized the flotilla to remember the ``13 de Marzo, a tugboat from Havana.

Cubans seeking to leave the island hijacked the tugboat, which was capsized by Cuban border patrols on July 13, 1994. Forty-one Cubans drowned.

Several boats left from Key West early Saturday to the area where the tugboat sank, stopping 12 1/2 miles north of Havana, just outside Cuba’s territorial waters.

In past flotillas participants have thrown wreaths and flowers into the sea, prayed and sung the Cuban national anthem. Exiles Saturday also used mirrors to send signals to the people on the island.

A Coast Guard ship reported that people on the island were signaling back at the exiles, said Jeff Murphy, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman.

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