While the news that Fidel Castro’s oldest son — Fidel “Fidelito” Castro Díaz-Balart — had committed suicide on Thursday made headlines in South Florida and elsewhere, it wasn’t even front page news Friday in Granma, the newspaper of Cuba’s Communist Party.
Instead, a small box on page 2 said that Castro Díaz-Balart had been hospitalized for depression in recent months and was an outpatient at the time of his death. It mentioned his current titles as a scientific adviser to the Council of State and vice president of the Academy of Sciences of Cuba, and said funeral arrangements would be made by the family.
When the announcement came on Cuba television, no pictures were shown of Castro Díaz-Balart.
In fact, Friday was a normal work day in Havana, and many people rushing to work seemed unaware of the death.
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“What caught my attention was the paucity of information,” said Enrique López Oliva, a retired University of Havana professor. “But he had a difficult situation: the son of a great leader, the product of a dissolved marriage, educated in the old Soviet Union.”
It had been thought that Castro Díaz-Balart was being groomed for an important role in a Soviet-financed nuclear plant in Cienfuegos, but the plant never opened after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The low-key treatment of Castro Díaz-Balart’s death as a private family matter comes as Cuba prepares for a generational shift in power and may be intended to send subtle political messages. Although he was the eldest son of Fidel Castro, “the group that’s now controlling things is the group of Raúl Castro,” said López Oliva.