“The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore”, admitted Fidel Castro to Jeffrey Goldberg, a writer for the Atlantic Monthly magazine who interviewed the leader and asked if Cuba's model -- Soviet-style communism -- was still worth exporting to other countries.
The comment appeared to reflect Castro's agreement, which he also expressed in a column for Cuban media in April, with his younger brother President Raul Castro, who has initiated modest reforms to stimulate Cuba's troubled economy.
Goldberg said Julia Sweig, a Cuba expert at the Council on Foreign Relations think tank in Washington who accompanied him to Havana, believed Castro's words reflected an acknowledgment that the state has too big a role in the economic life of the country.
Such sentiment would help President Castro, who took over from his brother in 2008, against those members of the ruling Communist Party who oppose his attempts to loosen the state's hand, Sweig told Goldberg.
Goldberg wrote in a blog that Castro summoned him to Havana to discuss his recent article about the likelihood of conflict between Israel and Iran, with possible US involvement, over Iran's growing nuclear capabilities.
He said Castro criticized Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for anti-Semitism and denying the Holocaust.
Castro, since emerging in July from four years of seclusion following intestinal surgery, has become an anti-nuclear weapon crusader expressing concern about the future of the world.
He fears that if the United States and Israel try to enforce international sanctions against Iran for its nuclear activities, nuclear war will break out.
Castro also criticized his own actions during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis when he urged the Soviet Union to launch nuclear weapons against the United States, telling Goldberg it wasn't worth it at all.
During their visit, Goldberg and Sweig went with Castro, at his invitation, to see a dolphin show at Cuba's National Aquarium in Havana.
They were accompanied by local Jewish leader Adela Dworin, who Castro kissed in front of the cameras in a possible message to Iranian leaders, Goldberg said in his Wednesday blog.
Goldberg described Castro as physically frail, but energetic and mentally acute.