Officials meet teen day after he's told he can leave Cuba
By CHRIS DOUCETTE, Toronto Sun
Last Updated: July 30, 2010 8:57am
SANTA LUCIA, CUBA — Better late than never.
After more than three months of feeling "alone" while waiting for news
on his Cuban detention, Cody LeCompte, his mom and his uncle finally had
their first face-to-face meeting with Canadian embassy officials Thursday.
And although the meeting came a day after the Simcoe teen learned he may
be free to go home as early as next, the officials apologized.
"They looked at Cody and they said, 'We're sorry,'" the 19-year-old's
mom, Danette, told The Sun after the 90-minute sit-down.
The embassy staffers, who work in Havana, also admitted to the
LeComptes: "We know we made mistakes along the way," during the meeting
at the Gran Club Santa Lucia.
Cody has been trapped at the resort for more than 13 weeks because of a
car accident that allegedly wasn't even his fault.
The 19-year-old and his mom, who racked up $30,000 in debt fighting to
bring her son home, pleaded for help from the embassy for months, hoping
they could reassure them everything was okay.
Instead they received only sparse phone calls, asking the LeComptes for
updates, and maintaining Canada couldn't interfere in another country's
"I think it's ironic," Gary Parmenter said with a chuckle, not because
the issue with his nephew is funny but because the notion consular
officials would choose to finally visit Cody after his crisis has all
but been resolved is laughable.
He said they also offered the officials advice during the meeting on how
the government could "do things better" in the future.
"They need to be more proactive and educate Canadians, and not just on
the government website, so they're not blind-sided when they travel to
certain countries," Parmenter said.
With the federal government under heavy fire from outraged Canadians
across the country, political opponents criticizing the apparent lack of
action from foreign affairs, and mounting media pressure over the last
week or so, the PMO ultimately stepped in Tuesday.
The next day, Cody and his family received the news they'd been waiting
to hear since the end of April — that they could leave the Caribbean
island, likely next week, and return for his trial if one is deemed
Cody, who had been under tremendous stress, has been all smiles since
receiving the good news.
Like any young man his age, there's one thing he's especially looking
forward to when he gets home.
"For the longest time, I've been craving a bacon cheeseburger ... from
Harvey's," Cody said, before sheepishly adding that he's also looking
forward to seeing his girlfriend.
John Arsenov, owner-operator of Amberlea Executive Limousine Service,
has kindly offered to pick up the LeComptes at the airport the day they
arrive back in Canada.
And he has told Cody he'll pull the stretch limo into Harvey's
drive-thru just for him."