Cuban President Fidel Castro has helped celebrate the 12th birthday of famed refugee Elian Gonzalez, by inviting the boy to a speech about the government's campaign against corruption.

Mr. Castro appeared in the boy's hometown of Cardenas Tuesday. During a two-hour speech, the Cuban leader praised youth involved in the effort to fight corruption in the nation's fuel-and food-distribution systems. Elian sat next to him.

Elian Gonzalez sparked an international custody battle in 1999, when he was rescued off the Florida coast after his mother died in an attempt to migrate to the United States. His extended family in Miami insisted he should be allowed to stay in Florida, but the U.S. government eventually returned the boy to his father in Cuba.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.