US Coast Guard pleads with 28-year-old mayor to reconsider trip from Cuba on makeshift raft

The U.S. Coast Guard is urging the mayor of a small Florida town to reconsider his plans to travel back from Cuba on a makeshift raft.

DeBary Mayor Clint Johnson is apparently not heeding those warnings. He spent the weekend making test runs for his upcoming Cuba trip. According to Fox News Latino, Johnson “started at a Ponce Inlet ramp, went around the jetty and about 12 miles north to Daytona Beach Shores.”

Johnson became the youngest mayor in Volusia County, Florida when he was elected at the age of 28.

During his Saturday excursion, Johnson posted photos on Instagram, with the caption: “Ocean test run complete! … #Cuba next!”

DeBary Mayor Clint Johnson testing a homemade raft similar to what he plans to build in Cuba in Daytona Beach Shores, FL. Photos by Beach Safety Ocean Rescue

DeBary Mayor Clint Johnson testing a homemade raft similar to what he plans to build in Cuba in Daytona Beach Shores, FL. Photos by Beach Safety Ocean Rescue

Johnson told local media he plans to cross the Florida Straits in mid-April without a motor  “because he wants to understand what Cuban migrants experience.”

With news that special immigration privileges for Cubans may soon end, the number of Cubans making their way to Florida illegally, has surged over the last year.

Since Johnson is a U.S. citizen — returning home from an approved trip to Cuba–  he says there is nothing barring him from making the potentially dangerous attempt.

He also addressed the issue of rescue crews, saying he would not want to endanger them in any way.  “I definitely would be willing to do whatever it takes to ensure their satisfaction,” Johnson said.

Under the so-called “wet foot/dry foot policy,” Cubans who reach U.S. shore generally can stay and pursue citizenship, but those who are caught at sea must return home.

Late last year, Mayor Johnson came under fire for lying about having a college degree from Stetson University.

Editor’s note: Clint Johnson became the youngest mayor in Volusia county on September 1, 2014 at the age of 28. His birth date and current age was not attained by Coast Guard News.

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