A Canadian teen who was denied permission to leave Cuba because he was involved in a traffic accident has been told by authorities on the Caribbean island he will soon be permitted to return home.
Cody LeCompte has "been through three months of getting his hopes up and down and it's been trauma for him," his mother Danette told The Globe and Mail on Thursday by telephone from Cuba. "I don't think it's sunk in and I don't think it will until he steps off the plane onto Canadian soil."
Ms. LeCompte said she and her 19-year-old son were summoned to meet with the Cuban police on Wednesday afternoon. Ten minutes after arriving, their Cuban lawyer in tow, the police told them they would let Cody leave on the condition that he return for a trial if required to do so.
He has never been charged in the accident in which he and the three others in the car he was driving were badly hurt, but Cuba will not normally allow those who have been involved in serious collisions to exit the country until the case has been cleared by the courts.
"I think I sat down and just cried," Ms. LeCompte said, describing her reaction upon hearing the news.
Mr. LeCompte has been staying at a resort that charges $90 a day since the accident, which occurred in April. Ms. LeCompte, who had to save for what she thought would be a week-long vacation to celebrate her son's acceptance into college, says she has racked up $30,000 in debt between paying for accommodation, extra plane tickets, lawyers fees, telephone charges and the cost associated with the collision.
"There are just a few formalities we have to go through" before Cody can depart Cuba, she said, so the exact day he will be on a plane has yet to be determined.
"We are hoping by tomorrow we will have confirmation but we're not sure of that. So there's just a few little things that have to be tied up. Then the police will give us the green light when Cody can go and soon as we get that green light, we will book the first available flight out of here."
The case, which became the subject of radio-call-in shows and newspaper articles, caused outrage across Canada. A Facebook page was started to advocate for his release.
The news that Mr. LeCompte will be heading back to Canada came just hours after Peter Kent, the minister of state for Foreign Affairs (Americas) said in a news release he had been in contact with Cuban authorities and had reminded them of the number of Canadians who visit the island every year as tourists.
Mr. Kent said he told the Cubans that, while Canada recognizes that Cuban law allows for a lengthy investigation, Canadian officials were concerned that this case was taking a very long time.
Ms. LeCompte attributes the Cuban change of heart to the media attention and to "all to of the Canadian people who saw a wrong and made it right. They sent endless e-mails to their MPs to their governments, strangers we don't even know."
Now she and her son will wait for the news they have wanted to hear for three months. And they may actually have a good weekend.
"This is the first time that we will be able to enjoy a vacation," Ms. LeCompte said. "Now we can relax, we can breathe. We are just so happy. But we will be happier when we are in Canada."