Canadians held ‘hostage’ in Cuban hotel room after damage to room
By Sean O’Shea
Reporter Global News
TORONTO — Two Canadian tourists say they were virtually held hostage in
their Cayo Coco, Cuba hotel room because their credit cards couldn’t be
accessed to pay $400 in room damages.
“I could not sleep at night knowing any other tourist would go through
this,” said Katharine Foran, 26, of Vancouver, who just returned to Canada.
Foran and her partner, Adam Babuik, 30, also of Vancouver, say they ran
into trouble before checkout at the Hotel Playa Coco.
Admitting they damaged a wall and broke a light bulb inside their room,
they were ordered to pay the hotel for damages. They say they agreed.
Foran says the hotel couldn’t process payment using their credit card;
not because of insufficient funds, but because of the card issuer.
“Because we were a part of a credit union in Vancouver, they didn’t
accept that in Cuba,” said Foran, who told Global News the couple’s
other card, a TD debit Visa, couldn’t be processed either.
The couple say they were prohibited from making phone calls or
contacting the Canadian Embassy in Cuba or to get legal assistance.
“I was floored,” said Foran.
When family members in Vancouver couldn’t reach the couple in Cuba, one
filed a missing person’s report with Vancouver police, which confirmed
information was circulated to agencies including the RCMP and the
Canadian Border Services Agency.
Incredibly, the couple’s release may have been ordered by Cuba’s highest
At one point while in detention, they say a police officer took a phone
call from someone who made loud demands.
“We asked afterward and they said it was (Raul) Castro,” president of
the Council of State of Cuba, she said.
Soon after, they were escorted to the airport, put on a Sunwing aircraft
and flown back to Toronto, without paying any of the charges demanded.
Initially, the couple said Air Canada wanted to charge additional fees
for their return to Vancouver. However, after a request by Global News,
Foran and Babuik were allowed to fly home to Vancouver at no extra cost.
Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development and Cuba’s
tourist office in Toronto did not return phone calls about the couple’s
The couple say they were made to feel like criminals.
“It was not a debt for a damaged wall and a lamp; it was like we had
killed someone in Cuba and we were going to go to jail for it,” said Foran.
Source: Canadians held ‘hostage’ in Cuban hotel room after damage to
room | Globalnews.ca –