The eldest son of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro has reportedly taken his own life, Cuban state media announced.
Fidel Castro Díaz-Balart, 68, had battled a “deep depression” for at least several months, according to government officials. He was found dead on Thursday.
“His delicate health situation required hospitalization and then continued with outpatient follow-ups as he reintegrated himself back into society,” said a journalist on Cuban state-run television, according to the Miami Herald.
Moreover, the island nation’s official newspaper, Gramma, stated, “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.”
Castro’s sudden death came little more than a year after his father also died.
Nicknamed “Fidelito,” the younger Castro was born to his father’s first wife, Mirta Díaz-Balart.
Two of his cousins — brothers Lincoln and Mario Díaz-Balart — are both Republican political leaders in South Florida who have taken strong stances against the Castro regime, the Herald reported.
Mario currently serves as a U.S. representative, while Lincoln is a former congressman currently working as a lawyer.
Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart lived in the U.S. for time when he was younger. His parents divorced before his father took power in Cuba, and his mother fled to America.
But when Fidelito traveled to visit his father, he never returned, leading some of his Florida relatives to claim he had been kidnapped, according to CNN.
Fidel Castro Sr. sent his son to study in the Soviet Union, and later, Fidelito joined his father’s administration as the head of the country’s nuclear program.
“He worked with his father, and his father tried to build him up,” said Jaime Suchlicki, the director of the nonprofit Cuban Studies Institute, who emphasized that Fidelito was the only one of his father’s children who wanted to work in government.
Fidelito led the nuclear program from 1980 until 1992, when his father dismissed him.
“He was fired for incompetence,” the Cuban leader said.
In the latter part of his life, Fidelito was reportedly upset that he didn’t have much to do.
“In the past few years, his star had been declining. He hadn’t been doing much,” Suchlicki told the Herald. “I understand he was depressed for a while.”
According to Frank Calzon, the head of the advocacy group Center for a Free Cuba, tensions in the Castro family have risen after Raúl Castro — Fidelito’s uncle — rose 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.
Fidelito had three children with his first wife, a Russian woman named Natasha Smirnova. After they got divorced, he married a Cuban native, María Victoria Barreiro.
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