Except for Mariela, the Castro Family Remains Silent on Fidelito’s Suicide

Fidel Castro Díaz-Balart (second from left, front row) in an archive image during the funerals of his father, Fidel Castro. (EFE)

14ymedio biggerEFE via 14ymedio, Havana, 3 February 2018 — On Saturday, the Castro family expressed appreciation for the messages of condolence received after the suicide, at the age of 68, of Fidel Castro’s first-born son, the nuclear physicist Fidel Castro Díaz-Balart, whose death surprised Cuba and has been much discussed on the streets in recent hours.

“On behalf of the family, I thank the good-hearted people who alleviate our pain by accompanying him with their messages of condolence” and “that my dear cousin may rest in peace,” Mariela Castro, the deceased’s cousin and daughter of Cuban president Raúl Castro, wrote on Twitter today.

So far no details about the burial have been divulged although it is foreseeable that the matter will be kept in the strictest privacy.

The words of Mariela Castro, who is also a member of the Cuban Parliament, have been the only public demonstrations by the family since the death of the Cuban leader’s eldest son was announced on Thursday night.

Fidel Castro Díaz-Balart, known on the island as “Fidelito”, was the only son of Fidel Castro’s marriage with Mirtha Díaz-Balart and at the time of his death he was scientific advisor to the Council of State of Cuba, the highest government body of the Island, and vice president of the Academy of Sciences.

The death was broadcast on state television through an official statement reproduced by the main official media such as the digital Cubadebate website and the newspapers Granma and Juventud Rebelde.

In that note, also published today in the paper versions of the newspapers — although not on the covers — it was affirmed that Castro Díaz-Balart “attempted against his life on the morning of this February 1” and that he suffered from a deep “depressive state” for which “he was being treated by a group of doctors” for several months.

“As part of his treatment, he initially required a hospitalization regimen and then continued with outpatient follow-up during his social reincorporation,” the text added.

Consternation, surprise, amazement or curiosity were the most recurrent reactions among Cubans on hearing what happened.

The news spread like wildfire on the island: this morning it was the most talked about issue in the streets, markets and workplaces, with no lack of murmured speculations about how the eldest son of the deceased commander might have taken his life or the place where he did it.

“Fidelito,” who never held key positions in Cuba, had a striking physical resemblance to his father, from the corpulent build to the bushy beard and haircut.

Trained in Russia, where he studied under a pseudonym for security, he was the head of Cuba’s nuclear policy between 1980 and 1992 and was in charge of the unfinished construction of the Jaragua nuclear power plant (in the south-central part of the island), which would have been the first installation of this type on the country.

It is unlikely that a report of the circumstances surrounding the suicide will be made public, similar to the way the medical information that the Cuban authorities disseminated when Fidel Castro died in November 2016 at the age of 90.

In addition to appreciation for the messages of condolence received, Mariela Castro said on Twitter that “only those who have known the depression caused by losses, know the infinity of their impact on the lives of sentient beings. There is no other way to explain the choice of death.”

“We also appreciate the testimonies of affection, respect and admiration inspired by the relevant scientific work and human qualities that always distinguished Fidelito,” wrote the cousin of the deceased.

Bolivian President Evo Morales is among those who sent their condolences, as did the vice president of Nicaragua, Rosario Murillo, the presidential candidate of the FARC party in Colombia, and the former lguerrilla leader Rodrigo Londoño.

Some of the last public appearances of Castro Díaz-Balart were the investiture of the American Chemistry Nobel Peter Agre as a member of the Cuban Academy of Sciences, in August of 2017, and a trip to Japan last October to represent his country in a scientific forum.

In keeping with the Castro tradition of maintaining their privacy outside the public eye, there is little information about his personal life.


The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.