Cuba's tainted image
Published On Wed Aug 04 2010
"Go Cuba," a long-running billboard campaign on the streets of Toronto,
features seductive images of foreign sunbathers relaxing on the island's
tranquil beaches. But no amount of glossy advertising can undo the
negative publicity from Cuba's shabby treatment of a 19-year-old
Canadian tourist whose vehicle was sideswiped by a pickup truck three
No charges have been laid against Simcoe native Cody LeCompte, but he
has been marooned on the island ever since, cooped up in hotel rooms at
a cost of more than $30,000 to his Ontario family. While that's not on a
par with captivity in Guantanamo Bay, it's still inexcusable given
Canada's historically friendly ties with Cuba.
About 1 million Canadians fly to Cuba every year — more visitors than
from any other country. Canada is also Cuba's second-biggest export
partner, and it has long rebuffed American pressure to restrict trade
and investment ties.
After high-level interventions by Canadian authorities, Cuban police
agreed to let LeCompte out on bail. But continued bureaucratic
foot-dragging has delayed his departure, with no assurance he can fly
home. If that's how the authorities treat Canadian tourists, no sunny ad
campaign will offset the blow to Cuba's image as a beach paradise.