The Associated Press
The organizer of an annual boat race to Cuba said Saturday that many of the items on the 20 competing sailboats were confiscated by federal agents when they returned to Key West.
Michele Geslin, organizer for the Key West Sailing Club Conch Republic Cup, said customs officials confiscated crew members’ cameras, trophies and paperwork. She said crew members also received threats that they could be fined for having taken their boats to Cuba without an export license. Organizers say that’s never happened before in the history of the race, which has been run for more than a decade.
U.S. citizens and boats are generally banned from traveling to Cuba, but Geslin contends the boats were covered by a humanitarian license held by Concord Cayo Hueso, a local aid group that takes medical supplies to Cuba.
A message left with the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement was not returned Saturday.
Geslin said government officials came to their pre-race party on May 22 to inform them of rules and regulations for Americans traveling to Cuba. Officials never informed them that their boats were not covered under the medic.