Around 60 Cuban exiles aboard five boats set out from Key West on Friday with plans to weigh anchor in international waters off the coast of Cuba and launch fireworks in a display of support for dissidents on the Communist-ruled island.

The flotilla will reach its destination about 8:00 p.m. (0100 GMT Saturday), project organizer and president of the Democracy Movement, Ramon Saul Sanchez, told Efe on Friday.

The shooting of the "Lights of Freedom" fireworks from the flotilla will coincide with a pot-and-pan banging protest called by Cuba's internal opposition and "a series of responses being planned for Havana's seafront esplanade, the Malecon," Sanchez said.

He said the activity is not meant to provoke the Cuban government, but as a demonstration on international waters with lights, flowers, prayers and a white flag.

"We go in peace, without violence, as we have always done, to take our message to the people of Cuba," he said.

The flotilla will be "presided over symbolically" by a large image of Laura Pollan, the late leader of the Ladies in White, a group of women seeking freedom for Cuba's political prisoners.

The flotilla will remain at a distance of 24 kilometers (15 miles) off the coast facing Havana.