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Showing posts from December, 2018

Unsafe assumptions: Where Toufik Benhamiche went wrong

IN CANADA and other developed countries, we're accustomed to safeguards. 
Open the door of a microwave oven in mid-cycle and the device shuts down before damaging electromagnetic waves can escape. Lose your grip on a zip line and a harness keeps you from crashing to the ground. 
Such fail-safes are there to protect us from injury – and protect manufacturers and service providers from legal liability. Sometimes the measures and warnings seem ridiculous – "Do not use lit match or open flame to check fuel level" – but we accept them in the spirit of too much is better than too little.

It's when we carry our assumptions about safety elsewhere that we can get into trouble.

Toufik Benhamiche would have expected that driving a small boat with a big engine was simple and straightforward – otherwise, why would a Cuban tour operator allow a novice to take the controls after a few moments of dockside instruction?

He didn't know that in Cuba, a place of intersections without s…

Don't take the wheel – or the tiller

AS LONG noted here, visitors should think twice about driving a car in Cuba. Get into an accident and you could find yourself trapped on the island for months of judicial process – followed, perhaps, by a jail sentence.

This advice applies to more than cars.

Toufik Benhamiche, a 47-year-old Montrealer, has been unable to leave Cuba since a July 2017 boating accident in which a fellow Canadian tourist was killed.

This week, Benhamiche learned he must remain on the island for at least another year fighting a criminal negligence conviction that if upheld could see him jailed for a further four years.

A statement released by his family on Dec. 26 said Benhamiche was convicted a second time by the provincial court of Ciego de Avila after Cuba's Supreme Court overturned an initial finding of guilt. Benhamiche, living in a rented apartment, is launching a new appeal while calling on the government of Canada to press Cuba to grant him an exit visa so he can rejoin his wife and two daughters i…