HAVANA — The eldest son of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro has reportedly committed suicide.
Fidel “Fidelito” Castro Díaz-Balart, 68, was seemingly suffering from depression. The only child of the late communist revolutionary and his first wife Mirta Diaz-Balart, he bore a striking resemblance to his father.
“Fidel Castro Díaz-Balart, who had been treated by a group of doctors for several months due to deep depression, took his life this morning,” Cuba’s official newspaper Granma reported.
Fidelito, who had originally moved to Miami with his mother after the couple divorced, was reunited with his father after Castro rose to power though, and never returned to the States with some family members claiming that he’d been “kidnapped.”
The family was split amongst those who supported the regime on the island, and those who went into exile and became part of Miami’s anti-Castro community. Fidelito’s cousin, for example, is Mario Díaz-Balart, a Republican state congressman.
After returning to the island, Fidelito, who spoke fluent English, was seen by American audiences when the formidable newsman Edward R. Murrow interviewed Castro. He attended college in the former Soviet Union, eventually graduating in 1974 suma cum laude with a degree in Nuclear Physics from the Lomonosov State University in Moscow.
While in Russia, he married Natasha Smirnova, with whom he had three children, Mirta María, Fidel Antonio and José Raúl. After divorcing Smirnova, Castro married María Victoria Barreiro.
Back in Cuba, he became the head of the island’s nuclear program, although he was eventually fired after failing to see eye to eye with his father.
“There was no resignation,” the dictator reportedly said at the time. “He was fired for incompetence. We don’t have a monarchy here.”
When his uncle Raul took over in 2008, he was named a scientific adviser. He was photographed just three years ago in Havana at a party with Naomi Campbell and Paris Hilton.
Fidelito had reportedly recently grown tired of the dictatorship, especially since his renewable energy proposals never became state policy, according to Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado.
Also, according to former British ambassador to Cuba Paul Hare, Fidelito appeared “thoughtful, rather curious about the world beyond Cuba” when they dined together in Boston two years ago. “He seemed a bit weary about having to be a Castro, rather than himself.”
His suicide has taken place just over a year after his father’s death on Nov. 25, 2016 at the age of 90.
According to Frank Calzon, executive director for the Center for a Free Cuba, there may have been tension within the family following his uncle’s rise to power.
“There has been some speculation of the anger and disappointment of Fidel’s family after General Raúl Castro became president and his children took the spotlight, and hardly anything else was heard of Fidel’s offspring,” Calzon said.
Though sad his death is not necessarily surprising. The suicide rate in Cuba is one of the highest in the region, according to the Pan American Health Organization.
Fidelito is survived by five half-brothers: Alexis, Alexander, Antonio, Alejandro and Angel, and a half-sister, Alina Fernández Revuelta. The funeral is being arranged by the family, according to official reports.