The oldest son of the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro committed suicide at the age of 68, Cuban state media announced on Thursday.
Fidel “Fidelito” Castro Diaz-Balart is the oldest son of Castro and his first wife, Mirta Diaz Balart.
Diaz-Balart was said to have killed himself Thursday morning after receiving months of treatment for a “deeply depressed state,” according to official website Cubadebate. He reportedly “required a hospitalization regime then outpatient follow-up” as part of his treatment.
Fidel Castro died in November 2016 at age 90. His brother, Raul, took over as Cuba’s leader in 2008.
Before his death, Diaz-Balart was a scientific adviser to the Council of State and was the vice president of the Cuban Academy of Sciences.
Of all Castro’s offspring, only Diaz-Balart, the angel-faced, blond boy from revolution-era photographs, was publicly recognized. He bore a striking resemblance to his father, which earned him the nickname Fidelito, or Little Fidel.
Diaz-Balart was born in 1949 and brought to the United States in the 1950s after his parents divorced. His mother’s family had ties to the Batista government, which Castro would eventually overthrow. As a result, the former Cuban leader wanted his son kept from his ex-wife’s family, leading to an ongoing custody battle over the boy.
“I refuse even to think that my son may sleep a single night under the same roof sheltering my most repulsive enemies and receive on his innocent cheeks the kisses of those miserable Judases,” Castro wrote to his half-sister Lidia in 1956.
While Castro was in Mexico preparing for the guerrilla war, he convinced his ex-wife to send Fidelito to visit him for two weeks. Once the boy was there however, Castro refused to send him back. Later, while the boy was out for a walk with Castro’s sisters, three armed men in a car grabbed Diaz-Balart so he could be reunited with his mother.
As an adult Diaz-Balart rose to the top post at Cuba’s Atomic Energy Commission before his father removed him for unpublicized reasons in the early 1990s.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.