The unbearable lightness of being Fidel Jr.

Jay Nordlinger in National Review:

Being Fidel Jr.

The Life and Death of Castro’s Son

Last week, news came from Cuba that Fidel Castro Jr. had killed himself. He had been battling depression for a long time and finally succumbed.

There was skepticism about this news because it was delivered by Cuba’s state media, which are of course untrustworthy. Was Castro Jr. perhaps killed in some succession struggle?

This is unlikely. Castro Jr. had some official jobs, but was never close to power. Fidel Castro did not allow his children near power. He kept them at arm’s length, showing little interest in them. His brother Raúl is very different. He is, indeed, a family man — the type to preside over Sunday dinners, for example. His son Alejandro is a big in the Cuban interior ministry, i.e., the secret police. He himself is a potential ruler.

But “Fidelito,” as he was known — “Little Fidel” — was something else.

Fidel Castro had ten kids, or fifteen, or more. No one really knows. It’s possible that Castro himself didn’t precisely know.

In 1993, Ann Louise Bardach interviewed Castro for Vanity Fair. She asked him how many children he had, and, at first, he declined to answer. Then he said, “Almost a tribe” — which must be one of the few charming or true things he ever said.

State media were forbidden to mention his family, ever. Even the CIA was unclear about the scope and particulars of Castro’s family.

Was he married? Many people thought so and said so. They said he was married to Dalia Soto del Valle, with whom he had five sons. But in an interview with Oliver Stone in 2003, Castro denied that he was married.

Those five sons, by the way, all have names that begin with A. They are Alexis, Alex, Alejandro, Antonio, and Ángel. (Raúl Castro has an Alejandro of his own, as you know.) How to account for all those A’s? For that matter, how to account for all those Alexanders, or variations thereon?

“Alejandro” (the Spanish form of “Alexander”) was Castro’s middle name. Also, he idolized Alexander the Great. Moreover, “Alejandro” was Castro’s nom de guerre during the revolution.

“Ángel” was the name of Castro’s father. About “Antonio,” I can’t tell you.

I can tell you something coarse, but maybe amusing: Some Cuban anti-Communists of my acquaintance refer to Castro’s five boys with Dalia Soto del Valle as “the five A-holes.”

Castro was definitely married once — to Mirta Díaz-Balart, the sister of his friend Rafael. They got married in 1948, when Castro was 22.

The Díaz-Balarts were a prominent political family in Cuba. Later, they would achieve prominence in the United States. Two of Rafael’s sons would serve in Congress. They were, and are, strong democrats, anti-Communists, and advocates of human rights. Castro liked to have some fun with visiting congressmen: “Say hello to my nephews, would you?”

A year into their marriage, Castro and Mirta had a son, Fidelito. Castro was not exactly the faithful type, to anyone. He had other women, who had other children (of his). Castro and Mirta divorced in 1955.

I should remark that this was four years before Castro seized power — which occurred on January 1, 1959.

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2 thoughts on “The unbearable lightness of being Fidel Jr.”

  1. Before Fidelito’s death, there were at least 10 suicides and 3 suicide attempts by militant Castro figures starting in 1959, including the sister of “General” Castro’s wife, who killed herself in his office. This is a much higher number than that of suicides by public figures during the Republican era.

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