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Thread: Canadian teen held by 'bizarre' Cuban law

  1. #1
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    Canadian teen held by 'bizarre' Cuban law

    TORONTO - Being involved in a car accident can be a scary ordeal.

    But when that wreck happens while you're visiting communist Cuba, you're only 19 and you suddenly find yourself detained for months on end facing up to three years in prison -- whether you were at fault or not -- it's downright frightening.

    "I still can't believe all of this is happening. I don't understand why I'm still here," a distraught Cody LeCompte told the Toronto Sun Wednesday over the phone from his hotel room in Santa Lucia, where he has basically been imprisoned since April 29.

    "I've been terrified I'm going to end up in a Cuban prison," said the teen from the small town of Simcoe, in southwestern Ontario. "And I just found out from my lawyer that's a very real possibility."

    LeCompte just graduated high school in February and, soon after, he learned he had been accepted to the aviation technician program at Sault College in Sault Ste. Marie.

    His mom, Danette, decided to reward him by springing for a two-week trip to Cuba.

    "It was supposed to be our one last getaway as mother and son," Danette explained.

    At the time, Cody couldn't have been happier. But since then the teen's life has been turned upside down.

    "It's just been an absolute nightmare," Danette said.

    Two days after arriving in the impoverished country, a popular holiday choice among Canadians, the mother and son decided to rent a car and head to the city of Canaguey.

    Danette's cousin, who tagged along on the vacation, and his Cuban fiancee were also in the Hyundai Accent, driven by Cody.

    Just 40 minutes into their trip, Danette said they were travelling through an intersection, which had no stop signal or traffic light, when a large truck "broadsided" their vehicle.

    All four occupants of the Hyundai were badly banged up and had to be driven to hospital by locals, Danette said.

    But the LeCompte family's troubles were just beginning.

    After the accident, they learned about a "bizarre" Cuban law that dictates any accident resulting in death or injury is treated as a crime and the onus is on the driver to prove innocence.

    "You're guilty until proven innocent," Danette said, adding Cody hasn't been charged with anything.

    Their travel agent, a Sunwing representative advised them Cody was not allowed to leave the country. Three months later, Cody still doesn't have a court date.

    His mother, who returned home briefly to get her financial affairs in order and is now back in Cuba, has been paying $90 a day for his room and meals at the resort.

    The hotel, the extra airfares, rental cars, a Cuban lawyer and other expenses have so far cost the single mom $30,000.

    "That's money we don't have," Danette said.

    Meanwhile, the Canadian government has been sitting on its hands waiting for Cuba's wheels of justice to slowly turn.

    "The Canadian government cannot interfere in the judicial process of a foreign country," said Dana Cryderman, a Foreign Affairs spokesman.

    http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2.../14788386.html

  2. #2
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    This proves that you must check the laws of a country that you visit.

    And since you Canadians can visit Cuba, learn a sad lesson from this kid and don't rent a car in Cuba. Go by bus at all times.

    I feel sorry for this kid. He is no Joran Vander Sloot, who deserves every unpleasant second of his next 35 years plus in the Peruvian hell that he finds himself in.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by daydreamer41 View Post
    This proves that you must check the laws of a country that you visit.
    Why ? isn't the Canadian passeport enough ?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by JH Fan View Post
    Why ? isn't the Canadian passeport enough ?
    I don't understand your comment, JH.

    Any embassy will tell you that they cannot help you if you are found guilty breaking a law of a country that you are visiting. It does not matter if you are innocent, or if the law is illogical. Look at Saudi Arabia where Westerners have been arrested in the past for not following Islamic laws.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by daydreamer41 View Post
    I don't understand your comment, JH.
    Don't worry it'll come.
    Ever heard about a Tourist card ?

    Here's any infos people like this poor guy could find about Driving in Cuba.
    http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/arti...ng-in-Cuba/246

    Not much about any car accident hey ?

    But like daydreamer is saying... you should look at :
    http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pa...g.asp?id=69000

    You would have stumble onto :

    "Traffic accidents are a frequent cause of arrest and detention of Canadians in Cuba. Accidents resulting in death or injury are treated as crimes, and the onus is on the driver to prove innocence. Regardless of the nature of the accident, it can take five months to a year for a case to go to trial. In most cases, the driver will not be allowed to leave Cuba until the trial has taken place. In some cases, the driver will be imprisoned during this delay."

    I think they should put this in effect over here for a year or two.
    People would stop driving like fr*kin maniacs and the gov. would have so much problems they would have to fix our stupid fr*kin road.

    Specially the bridges.
    Last edited by JH Fan; 07-22-2010 at 02:10 PM.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Holliday View Post
    Meanwhile, the Canadian government has been sitting on its hands waiting for Cuba's wheels of justice to slowly turn.

    "The Canadian government cannot interfere in the judicial process of a foreign country," said Dana Cryderman, a Foreign Affairs spokesman.

    http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2.../14788386.html
    Seems to me there have been a number of Canadians (if I recall correctly, for example, in Mexico and in Spain and in the Middle east) in trouble in recent years, that the current Canadian government refuses to lend aid to. I'm not sure what the obligation of the Canadian government to its citizens really is, but I always used to think that if I was in trouble in a foreign land that my embassy / government would help me. I guess I was naive.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by katsrin View Post
    ... but I always used to think that if I was in trouble in a foreign land that my embassy / government would help me. I guess I was naive.
    See daydreamer... I told you it would come

    God I love myself for being such a smarta*s !

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by katsrin View Post
    Seems to me there have been a number of Canadians (if I recall correctly, for example, in Mexico and in Spain and in the Middle east) in trouble in recent years, that the current Canadian government refuses to lend aid to. I'm not sure what the obligation of the Canadian government to its citizens really is, but I always used to think that if I was in trouble in a foreign land that my embassy / government would help me. I guess I was naive.
    The US has the same policy. In fact all governments have the same policy. The only help the embassy will give you is help finding a "qualified" lawyer who may know your language, if it exists. They will send someone to visit you from the embassy if permitted.

    For government employees, including spies, they may try to negotiate with the foreign government. Example: the Russian spies in the US for some US spies in Russian jails that had been incarcerated since the Cold War.

    There are cases that are political in nature, such as the hikers who allegedly wandered into Iran; Secretary of State Clinton became involved. But her involvement has yet to sway the Iranians to free the hikers.

    In all cases in the US, the family can go to their Representative in Congress and ask for help. However, the diplomatic channels are rather iindirect. Again all the Embassy can do is be a monitor.

    Some countries allow some prisoners to serve their sentence in their home country. I think Peru is one of those countries, but it is at Peru's discretion on a case by case basis and those arrangements are part of treaties between the participating countries. I vaguely remember them talking about it during Van der Sloot's most recent murder.

  9. #9

    Post Cuba, a nice place to vist, but I wouldn't want to live there.

    Raul may be in charge now, but I doubt prison reform is a high priority. The resorts are
    nice, but don't fool yourself, it's still very third world. Citizens aren't trying to leave just because
    quality food items are scarce. We are extremely lucky to live in a country with such a fair judicial system.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba#Human_rights

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba#Recent_affairs

  10. #10
    Another example of why you shouldnt leave the resort
    Stay thirsty my friends

  11. #11
    I would hope that the Canadian Government can at least exert some pressure to expedite the trial. The intent of the Cuban law seems to be to hold drivers responsible for their actions. The problem is with its implementation. An assumption of innocence rather than guilt and a speedy trial would make it reasonable. There are lots of third world countries where a tourist can kill someone due to drunk driving or other gross negligence and get on a plane after possibly paying a small bribe.

    I think our no-fault insurance is the other extreme. My car was recently hit by someone who ignored the red light in his direction. If I had been killed or seriously injured, I don't believe that, apart from an increase in his insurance premiums, he would gotten more than a wrist slap.

  12. #12
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    A friend of mine used to travel to Mexico by car ever year. One time, he got into accident in Mexico City. They got hit by a bus. For whatever reason, they were blamed, even though it was the bus that didn't make the stop. Since then, he always told me that in Mexico, the mexican people are never guilty when there's a traffic accident, no matter what happened. The blame is always put on foreigners. I used to chuckle at this, even though he firmly believed what he said, but now i realize that maybe he might have been correct after all.

  13. #13
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    Embassy to Cody: 'We're sorry'

    Officials meet teen day after he's told he can leave Cuba

    By CHRIS DOUCETTE, Toronto Sun

    SANTA LUCIA, CUBA — Better late than never.

    After more than three months of feeling “alone” while waiting for news on his Cuban detention, Cody LeCompte, his mom and his uncle finally had their first face-to-face meeting with Canadian embassy officials Thursday.

    And although the meeting came a day after the Simcoe teen learned he may be free to go home as early as next, the officials apologized.

    “They looked at Cody and they said, ‘We’re sorry,’” the 19-year-old’s mom, Danette, told The Sun after the 90-minute sit-down.

    The embassy staffers, who work in Havana, also admitted to the LeComptes: “We know we made mistakes along the way,” during the meeting at the Gran Club Santa Lucia.

    Cody has been trapped at the resort for more than 13 weeks because of a car accident that allegedly wasn’t even his fault.


    The 19-year-old and his mom, who racked up $30,000 in debt fighting to bring her son home, pleaded for help from the embassy for months, hoping they could reassure them everything was okay.

    Instead they received only sparse phone calls, asking the LeComptes for updates, and maintaining Canada couldn’t interfere in another country’s justice system.

    “I think it’s ironic,” Gary Parmenter said with a chuckle, not because the issue with his nephew is funny but because the notion consular officials would choose to finally visit Cody after his crisis has all but been resolved is laughable.

    He said they also offered the officials advice during the meeting on how the government could “do things better” in the future.

    “They need to be more proactive and educate Canadians, and not just on the government website, so they’re not blind-sided when they travel to certain countries,” Parmenter said.

    With the federal government under heavy fire from outraged Canadians across the country, political opponents criticizing the apparent lack of action from foreign affairs, and mounting media pressure over the last week or so, the PMO ultimately stepped in Tuesday.

    The next day, Cody and his family received the news they’d been waiting to hear since the end of April — that they could leave the Caribbean island, likely next week, and return for his trial if one is deemed necessary.

    Cody, who had been under tremendous stress, has been all smiles since receiving the good news.

    Like any young man his age, there’s one thing he’s especially looking forward to when he gets home.

    “For the longest time, I’ve been craving a bacon cheeseburger ... from Harvey’s,” Cody said, before sheepishly adding that he’s also looking forward to seeing his girlfriend.

    John Arsenov, owner-operator of Amberlea Executive Limousine Service, has kindly offered to pick up the LeComptes at the airport the day they arrive back in Canada.

    And he has told Cody he’ll pull the stretch limo into Harvey’s drive-thru just for him.

    http://en.canoe.ca/home.html

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Holliday View Post
    Embassy to Cody: 'We're sorry'
    Did I say anything about the 'passport' ?

    Mmm...

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    Quote Originally Posted by master_bates View Post
    Another example of why you shouldnt leave the resort
    Don't be silly. Cuba is a fine place to visit. Only lamers would stay on their Varadero resort. On the other hand, renting a car and driving is at best risky. Cops love to pull you over for phantom infractions (think, black guy with a nice car on the south shore of Montreal), and harass you for any 'loose change' you might have on hand.

    I've been the two dozen times, and always get a driver.
    You are cordially invited to toss my salad. There's an app for that!

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