Fidel Castro's eldest son and nuclear physicist 'Fidelito' commits suicide
Fidelito was in charge of Cuba’s national nuclear program from 1980 to 1992 until his fallout with his father, after which he was ousted from the program.
The eldest son of former Cuban President Fidel Castro, Fidel "Fidelito" Castro Diaz-Balart, committed suicide on Thursday, according to a report by Cuba's state-run media.
Fidelito was 68 years old and according to government website Cubadebate, was suffering from depression in recent months. He had initially been hospitalized and then continued treatment as an outpatient.
Castro Diaz-Balart was the only child Castro had with his first wife, Mirta Diaz-Balart. He was given the soubriquet "Fidelito" or Little Fidel, as he was tall and bearded just like his father.
BREAKING: Cuban state media say Fidel Castro's eldest son has killed himself.— The Associated Press (@AP) 2 February 2018
Cubadebate website said, “Castro Diaz-Balart, who had been attended by a group of doctors for several months due to a state of profound depression, committed suicide this morning."
The details of how he killed himself were not disclosed.
When Castro took over the government in Cuba in 1959, Mirta had already divorced him, after which her relatives went into exile to form Miami's anti-Castro exile community.
Fidelito's cousin Mario Diaz-Balart is a Republican congressman in Florida and highly critical of the Cuban government.
According to some accounts by Cuban scholars, his mother taken him to the United States along with her in 1955 when Castro was incarcerated for attacking the Moncada military barracks in Santiago.
After Castro took over Cuba, Mirta sent Fidelito to visit his father shortly after. Once Castro met with his son, he did not let him go back to Miami. Fidelito's relatives back in Florida assumed that he was kidnapped by his father.
He was also subjected to a custody battle between Castro and his mother as a child.
When Castro was interviewed by CBS News' Edward R. Murrow on national television, a young Fidelito accompanied his father introducing his new puppy to Murrow and speaking fluent English.
According to Fidelito's official biography, he pursued his higher education in the Soviet Union and married a Russian woman. He also took charge of Cuba’s national nuclear program from 1980 to 1992 until his fallout with his father, after which he was ousted from the program.
Fidelito was a multilingual nuclear physicist and had spearheaded the development of a nuclear plant in Cuba until his father fired him.
Once Raul Castro became President of Cuba in 2008, Fidelito was once again appointed in the government and this marked Fidelito's re-entry into public life.
At the time of his untimely demise, Fidelito was working with his uncle, President Raul Castro as the scientific counselor to the Cuban Council of State. He was also appointed as the vice-president of the Cuban Academy of Sciences.
Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado, who teaches at the University of Nebraska in Omaha, said that Castro Diaz-Balart had helped him immensely while he was working on a book on Cuba's nuclear program. Benjamin-Alvarado is an expert on Cuba and its affairs.
A lack of funding after the trade deal between Cuba and the ex-Soviet bloc lapsed halted the plans to build the proposed nuclear plant. After that, Fidelito was barely seen in public except for a few scientific conferences in the state.
Reportedly, Fidelito met Benjamin-Alvarado once again in Moscow at a conference, where he "worked the room full of international nonproliferation experts, diplomats and journalists with aplomb, speaking no less than four languages -Spanish, English, Russian and French.”
Having said that, the expert on Cuba said that Fidelito's title as a scientific counselor was majorly in name as his propositions on development of energy were not incorporated into Cuba's policies.
“He had written extensively on Cuba’s need for developing renewable energy resources,” Benjamin-Alvarado said. “And yet almost all efforts by the Cuban government were geared to maintaining the status quo of oil dependency.”
“I imagine that was disappointing for him.”
Also, Paul Hare, a lecturer at Boston University's Pardee School of Global Studies and a former British ambassador to Cuba, said that at a dinner he shared with Fidelito two years ago, he had seemed “thoughtful, rather curious about the world beyond Cuba."
“But he seemed a bit weary about having to be a Castro, rather than himself,” Hare said. In 2015, Little Fidel was photographed with Paris Hilton and british model Naomi Campbell in a luxuriant cigar party in Havana.
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