Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, in what was taken by some as his first public endorsement of the economic reforms launched by his brother Raúl, has said that he's "happy because the country is moving."
But Castro also repeated a warning that the government should exercise more control over foreign currency transactions -- a move that would run against Raúl's efforts to loosen state controls over the economy.
Castro's comments Wednesday to a Havana University audience were perceived by some as approving the reforms launched by his brother, who has announced the dismissal of 500,000 public employees, an expansion of private economic activity and massive cuts in state subsidies.
``Fidel recognizes that he is happy, because the country is moving despite all the challenges,'' said a report on the university meeting published in the official newspaper Granma.
Castro has never before commented publicly on his brother's reforms, but one news agency headlined its report on his speech as, ``Fidel Castro endorses his brother Raúl's economic reform.''
The former leader also praised China, whose mix of capitalist economics with authoritarian Communist Party rule has been repeatedly held up as a possible model for Cuba.
``China is worth studying,'' the Granma report said.
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