Fidel Castro Praises Capitalist Carlos Slim, and His Taste in Televisions

Ex-Cuban President Fidel Castro praised Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s intelligence and said the world’s richest man once gave him a TV.

Castro, a communist who governed Cuba for more than 49 years, wrote in an article published in Cuban state media that the two had met on several occasions.

“He visited me whenever I went to Mexico and once he visited me in Cuba,” Castro said, without giving any dates. “He gave me a television -- at the time the most modern -- which I kept in my house until just last year.”

Castro, who turned 84 today, returned to the public eye last month, giving his first television interview in at least three years on July 13 and releasing an autobiography about the years leading up to the Cuban revolution. Fidel began transferring control of the government to his brother Raul in July 2006, when he underwent intestinal surgery, and officially stepped down as president in 2008.

In the article, Castro also said he supports the accusations made by ex-mayor of Mexico City Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who claimed in a book that his country’s elite benefitted from the “mafia that took possession of Mexico,” referring to the government of ex-President Vicente Fox, who came to power in 2000. Castro said “multimillionaires” like Slim would exist in Mexico under any government.

“Even though he is the richest of all, with a fortune greater than $60 billion, he is an intelligent man who knows all the secrets of the stock exchanges and the mechanisms of the capitalist system,” Castro said.

Slim, who controls Latin America’s largest wireless carrier, America Movil SAB, is the world’s richest man according to Forbes magazine. The son of a Lebanese immigrant to Mexico, he built a telecommunications empire after acquiring control of Telefonos de Mexico SAB in a 1990 privatization sale.

Arturo Elias, a spokesman for Slim, didn’t immediately return phone and e-mail messages seeking comment.

To contact the reporters on this story: Charlie Devereux in Caracas at cdevereux3@bloomberg.net Corina Rodriguez Pons in Caracas at crpons@bloomberg.net

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