Cuba freed teen to protect tourism, Kent says
By JENNY YUEN, Toronto Sun
Last Updated: July 29, 2010 7:01pm
Cody LeCompte's release was helped by the Cuban government's desire to
keep a shiny tourism image, a Canadian cabinet minister says.
LeCompte, 19, of Simcoe, will return home next week after being forced
to stay in Cuba by police since April after his rental car was involved
in a crash.
"It's a reality that the Cuban government saw the media coverage of
Cody's situation as something — if prolonged, would have a negative
impact on the tourism industry," said Peter Kent, minister of state for
"The local police who have been conducting the investigation contacted
the family and told them the investigation will be closed, but there are
still some formalities to be worked through, which are being assisted by
counsellor officers from the Canadian embassy in Havana," he said.
Kent said he became involved in the case when he and Parliamentary
Secretary Deepak Obhrai were at the African Union summit in Kampala,
Uganda last week meeting with senior Cuban officials.
"We made it clear we didn't want to interfere in the judicial process in
Cuba, but we encouraged them to complete the investigation and resolve
it as quickly as possible," he said.
In addition, Kent said he sent a diplomatic note to the foreign affairs
ministry in Havana last week and this week he called a Cuban official
into the department of foreign affairs in Ottawa.
"I issued a statement yesterday, which recognized the fact that many
millions of Canadian tourists visited Cuba over the years and I
mentioned in a supportive way that it would be unfortunate that
prolonged limbo of Cody and his family were to discourage future
Canadian tourists to visit that island," he said.
"I was talking to Cody's mother this morning and when she was asked what
advice she had for Canadian tourists in the wake of this, she said to
stay on the resort and if you leave, use public transit or tour buses
because it's just not worth the anxiety and the cost."