Former Colombian President Andrés Pastrana issued a statement Wednesday explaining why his name appeared on the flight records of accused rapist and sex trafficker of minors Jeffrey Epstein, claiming Cuban dictator Fidel Castro invited the two to Havana.
Guards found Epstein dead in his prison cell on Saturday of an apparent suicide. Irregularities in guard records the night before his death and his removal from suicide watch shortly before his death have led many to speculate that Epstein, who had relationships with many high-profile and powerful personalities in his capacity as a “financier,” was killed.
Pastrana adamantly denied any knowledge of the sex trafficking and rape of underaged girls that Epstein stood accused of at the time of his death.
Comunicado del expresidente Andrés Pastrana Arango. pic.twitter.com/w0kHDwd6Kn
— Andrés Pastrana A (@AndresPastrana_) August 14, 2019
“Amid journalistic revelations of the horrifying and condemnable sex scandals of financier Jeffrey Epstein, the registry of a flight of mine on his plane has appeared to Nassau, Bahamas, to transfer to my final destination Havana, Cuba, invited by President Fidel Castro,” Pastrana wrote. “Mr. Jeffrey Epstein left Cuba a day or two later; I stayed on the island.”
Pastrana explained that he met Epstein in Ireland during the International Achievement Summit of 2002 in Dublin. The summit was hosted by the American Academy of Achievement, a non-profit group whose goal is to help global elites meet, network, and do business together. The International Achievement Summit was founded, in the words of the organization, for “generating a dialogue between eminent international achievers and the most promising young leaders of tomorrow.”
Pastrana noted that the Dublin conference was “a highly-publicized ceremony at which personalities such as Mikhail Gorbachev, Bill Clinton, Bono, and Jeremy Irons” attended.
Clinton, in particular, is believed to have had a close relationship with Epstein. In a statement following his indictment in July, the former president admitted to traveling with Epstein on four occasions and meeting with the investor twice in New York. Reports surfacing since Epstein’s arrest this year indicate that Clinton flew significantly more often than the statement alleged on the plane known as the “Lolita Express.” One witness who has come forward since Epstein’s arrest also claims that Clinton visited Epstein’s private island, where he is alleged to have trafficked underaged girls to prominent and wealthy older men.
Pastrana adamantly denied having ever visited the private island.
Pastrana’s name appears on flight records dating back to 2003, a year after his tenure as president of Colombia ended. According to the Miami Herald:
Flight records show that Pastrana was aboard one of Epstein’s private planes that left on March 20, 2003, from New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport headed to Palm Beach International Airport. Pastrana also appears in the manifest of another flight the next day from Palm Beach to Nassau International Airport in the Bahamas.
Records show Epstein, his girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, and model executive Jean-Luc Brunel, on both flights. According to the documents, they all returned to Palm Beach, without Pastrana, from the Bahamas on March 23.
The trip to Cuba, however, does not appear either in Rodgers’ records or in the records kept by the Federal Aviation Administration and obtained by the Miami Herald.
Pastrana developed a relationship with Castro during his tenure as president, as the Cuban communist regime has for years abetted the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist terrorist organization responsible for over a half a century of murders, kidnappings, rapes, forced abortions, and multi-million-dollar drug sales in the South American country. Pastrana sought a peace deal with both the FARC and the National Liberation Army (ELN), the second-largest Marxist terrorist group active in the country, and attempted to develop a relationship with Castro to get it done.
Telesur, a radical leftist propaganda network, claimed in an homage to Castro’s support for terrorism that the dictator paid “special attention” to Pastrana and developed a role as a “protagonist” in the FARC struggle against peace in Colombia. Pastrana himself also discussed establishing a working relationship with Castro in pursuit of a deal with the FARC in multiple interviews.
Following Castro’s death – and the conclusion of a FARC peace deal with the government of former President Juan Manuel Santos despite losing a constitutionally mandated public referendum to impose it – Cuba had no more use for Pastrana and arrested in him 2018 for trying to enter the country. Pastrana said he was attempting a visit to support pro-democracy dissidents on the island, a violation of Cuba’s strict laws against disrespecting communism.
Pastrana’s relationship with Castro does not explain the late dictator’s relationship with Epstein. The Herald notes that Epstein does not appear in the flight records to Cuba though Pastrana claimed that he did indeed take a flight to the island. There is no publically known record of any relationship between Castro and Epstein. As an American, Epstein was banned from tourism to Cuba and, to legally enter the country, would have had to file for a government exception to the embargo under one of 12 categories of permitted travel to Cuba. There is at press time no indication that Epstein ever did so.
If the allegations that Epstein engaged in child sex trafficking are true, it is possible he developed a business interest in Cuba. Cuba has for decades allowed child prostitution to flourish – one of the few, if only, industries to thrive under communism. “As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Cuba, and traffickers exploit victims from Cuba abroad,” the U.S. State Department said in its annual trafficking report for 2019. “Sex trafficking and sex tourism, including child victims, occur within Cuba. Traffickers exploit Cuban citizens in sex trafficking and forced labor in South America, the Caribbean, and the United States.”
Epstein was arrested in July on charges of child sex trafficking. Reports following his arrest indicated that prosecutors believed he had “had sexual encounters with dozens of underage girls at his Palm Beach, Florida residence,” brought to him by a team of “female fixers” to recruit them. Epstein was a registered sex offender and had already served jail time on similar charges. Epstein was found dead in his cell this weekend. Authorities initially told reporters that he appeared to have strangled himself with his bedsheet, an item he would not have had access to if he had remained on suicide watch. On Wednesday, the Washington Post revealed, however, that an autopsy completed on his body found broken neck bones common in cases of asphyxiation, leading to suspicions he was aided in his suicide attempt or killed.