Friday, July 30, 2010

Cuba freed teen to protect tourism: Minister

Cuba freed teen to protect tourism: Minister
Posted By JENNY YUEN, QMI Agency

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Americas Peter Kent said
Cody LeCompte's release was expediated by the Cuban government's desire
to keep a shiny tourism image.

Kent confirmed Thursday that LeCompte, the 19-year-old Simcoe teen who
has been held in Cuba by police since April after his rental car was
involved in a crash, will return home next week.

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"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," Kent told reporters.

"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."

Kent said he personally 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 the Charge
d'Affaires for Cuba 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.

Canadian Consular officials have been talking to the Cuban officials on
the police and prosecutors' side of the case as well as in the foreign
affairs ministry in Havana since April, when the accident occurred, Kent

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