Why Fidel Castro’s eldest son committed suicide

Fidel Ángel “Fidelito” Castro Díaz-Balart took his own life in Havana after battling depression for months, state media reported.

Diaz-Balart, the eldest son to Cuba’s deceased president Fidel Castro, was found dead Thursday morning.

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Diaz-Bazart was a nuclear physicist trained by the defunct Soviet Union.

The 68-year-old was once placed in charge of Cuba’s nuclear power program for a time until he fell out with his father.

“There was no resignation,” Mr Castro reportedly said at that time. “He was fired for incompetence. We don’t have a monarchy here.”

Popularly known as “Fidelito” or “Little Fidel” because of his resemblance to the former president, Diaz-Balart grew up in the United States. His mother Mirta Diaz-Balart left with him after separating from the late leader shortly before Cuba’s revolution, but he returned home later and never left again.

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Image taken in 1959 shows the Cuban rebel leader Fidel Castro and his son, Fidel Jr. (Source: AP)

State media reports say Diaz-Balart was receiving medical treatment as an outpatient in recent months, following a hospital stay.

“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 – little more than a year after his father.

“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,” Cubadebate website said.

His death comes as a surprise to many Cubans because the personal lives of all member of Fidel Castro’s family are kept away from the public eye, and for the fact that almost no-one knew he suffered mental health issues before his death was announced.

He had three children – Mirta María, Fidel Antonio and José Raúl – with Natasha Smirnova, whom he met in Russia after divorcing Smirnova, and later married María Victoria Barreiro from Cuba.

At the time of his death, Diaz-Bazart held positions as a scientific adviser for the Cuban Council of State and vice president of Cuba’s Academy of Sciences.

Funeral arrangements will be made by the family, state media said.