CubaBrief: Epstein, Castro are a match made in hell

Fabiola Santiago’s title says it all: “Epstein, Castro are a match made in hell.”

The Miami Herald, Aug 20, 2019

Santiago: Epstein, Castro are a match made in hell


The day before Jeffrey Epstein flew to Havana on his Lolita Express, 75 dissidents, independent journalists and librarians were rounded up across the island in a series of brutal raids that became known as the Cuban Black Spring.

I doubt the multimillionaire financier with a penchant for trafficking minors for sex went to advocate for human rights.

Epstein made the likely illegal trip to the island in 2003 from the Bahamas, off the grid, at Fidel Castro’s invitation. Call theirs a match made in hell: the ruthless dictator and the sexual predator.

Epstein flew to Cuba with Andrés Pastrana, the Colombian former president, who revealed the connection last week after he was forced to explain why his name was on the flight manifest of Epstein’s private jet. Yes, the same one Epstein used to shuttle around the world the young girls he exploited, ages 13-17.

“Amid journalistic revelations about horrifying and reprehensible sex scandals of financier Jeffrey Epstein, a trip of mine on his plane to Nassau, Bahamas, has appeared, to transfer to the final destination of Havana, Cuba, invited by President Fidel Castro,” Pastrana said in a statement posted on Twitter. “Mr. Jeffrey Epstein left Cuba a day or two later; I stayed on the island,” Pastrana said.

Epstein was probably already scouting for quick places to flee and hide from investigations launched in 2002 into an expansive sex ring that spanned from his Manhattan mansion to his own Caribbean island home, and on to Europe.

Cuba was then and remains now a well-known oasis for U.S. fugitives, so close geographically yet so far away from the reach of U.S. law enforcement. From welfare frauds to a cop killer, those wanted by the law feel protected by the regime’s hatred for the U.S. government and the lack of an extradition treaty.

At the same time, and particularly from 2001 to 2003 before the dissident crackdown, Castro was basking in the accolades of the clueless Hollywood left, who were angry that George W. Bush was president. Cuban Americans in Miami had helped Bush get elected by a thread.

Bush had tightened travel to and from the island. The list of stars who traveled to Cuba in the early 2000s under cultural exchange and art-making exemptions was diverse and despicable.

Jack Nicholson proclaimed Castro “a genius.” Oliver Stone said he was “very selfless and moral. One of the world’s wisest men.” Naomi Campbell, one of many celebrities who traveled in Epstein’s jet, said meeting Castro was “a dream come true!”

Stone turned three days in Havana with Castro into the celebratory documentary “Comandante,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2003.

HBO, however, canceled its showing in the aftermath of international outrage over the dissident crackdown and the execution of three men who hijacked a ferry to flee to the United States, a mere nine days after their arrest.

Stone pronounced himself “heartbroken” and went on to make two more films, “Looking for Fidel” in 2003 and “Castro in Winter” in 2012.

Yes, 2003 was a horrible year in Cuba.

It’s not surprising that a villain like Epstein, who lured vulnerable girls with the promise of earning a couple of hundred dollars for a massage, is in the historical mix. Epstein ran in celebrity circles and partied with them, so Cuba would have easily been on his radar.

Pastrana, who served as Colombia’s ambassador to the United States from 2005-06, said he first met Epstein at the Academy of Achievement summit held in Ireland in June 2002.

Epstein’s death in his Manhattan cell on Aug. 10 at 66 from an apparent suicide is under investigation as is his sex trafficking ring and those involved in the conspiracy.

One less creep in the world is nothing to mourn, but it denied Epstein’s victims their right to face their abuser in court. That, he also has in common with the Cuban dictator. Castro’s victims, too, remain largely unheard.

If there’s a hell, dictator and predator should both be burning in it now.

Fabiola Santiago writes for the Miami Herald.