Fun and Sun in Cuba

Author - Norman Leach, Created - 09.09.2010, Views - 6959, Comments - 2

2010-09-07

The Toronto Sun recently trumpeted that “Cody LeCompte is finally home!”

LeCompte is, of course, the Simcoe Ont man who was involved in a car accident in Cuba and was detained by Cuban authorities.

Now, anyone who knows me knows I have little time for the regime in Cuba and even less for Fidel and his brother Raul. However, I am just as opposed to Canadians who go overseas, break the law and then expect taxpayers to get them out of jail – for free.

LeCompte travelled to Cuba, a communist regime with a civil court system, for two weeks of fun in the sun before heading back to school. As part of the trip Cody and his mother rented an automobile and, despite the fact he was underage, Cody decided to drive and was involved in a serious car accident that injured one of his passengers – a Cuban National.

Cody was detained by Cuban officials while an investigation was undertaken. Cody’s mother immediately undertook a media campaign in Canada claiming that Cody’s detention was “unfair” and besides they did not know it was illegal for him to drive in Cuba.

The reality is that both Cody and his mother, should have known better. If they had taken ten minutes to read the Canadian Department of External Affairs website they would have found out that you need to be 21 to drive a car in Cuba and that;

“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.”

So let’s be very clear. LeCompte went to a foreign country, broke the law, claimed to not know he had broken the law and we as Canadians are to rush to his rescue?

The reality is that LeCompte was treated exactly as a resident of Cuba would have been. He received no worse and, in fact, much better treatment than a Cuban in the same circumstances would have. Most Cubans would not have been allowed to serve their time at resort with all the amenities as LeCompte was.

When a visitor from a foreign country arrives in Canada we expect them to know and respect the law. If that visitor drove a car under the influence of alcohol and caused an accident where people were injured would we give him a free pass saying “Well, he just didn’t understand our laws. I am sure he is a good person let’s send him home?” Or would we demand that he be treated in exactly the same way as a Canadian charged with drinking and driving?

And before anyone out there says “True but Cuba is a repressive regime and their legal system is not like ours” you would be right. Their system is not like ours but is like France, Spain, Mexico, Japan, Norway and about 70 other countries around the world.

The real answer for Canadians travelling abroad for business or pleasure is “when in Rome do as the Romans do.” Oh wait, Italy has the same system of justice as Cuba.

comments: (2)

    • I have been to Cuba once. Holguin. Never go there.
    • ya... I've also been there... it's either it was a bad week or that place is a real dump hole! all the people who say it's fantastic... that's just bullshit