Florida Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen is probably regretting recent statements he made to Time magazine as he’s been suspended for five games by the MLB club for singing the praises of former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Quotes attributed to Guillen were published on the popular magazine’s website on Apr 6 in which he praised Castro for his longevity.
The comments were highly criticized by Miami’s large Cuban community since many residents fled the small Caribbean island during Castro’s reign to seek freedom and a better standard of life in the U.S. Several Cuban-American organizations in Miami have even asked the organization to fire Guillen, who is quoted in the article as saying he loves Fidel Castro.
Guillen, who hails from Venezuela, added that he respected Castro for being able to hang onto power for so long even though he had made several enemies around the world. However, the Marlins obviously don’t share their manager’s views and said in a statement that the club acknowledges the seriousness of Guillen’s remarks and the pain and suffering which Castro caused over the years can’t be taken lightly, especially in the local community, which is filled with thousands of victims of Castro’s dictatorship.
Guillen was suspended on Apr. 10 after speaking with the media and club officials. Guillen told the press that he’s saddened by the suspension and situation, but respects the team’s decision and will do whatever they ask of him. He said he’s sorry about the problem he’s caused and will do everything he can to make the situation better.
This is Guillen’s first season with the Marlins, but previously worked as a coach for the team before leaving for the Chicago White Sox where managed the Windy City team for eight years. Guillen added that he’s embarrassed about the situation because he’s lived in the Miami area for several years. He said he realizes his remarks have hurt and angered a lot of people and wants to apologize because he said the wrong things about Castro.
When asked to clarify his comments regarding Castro, Guillen said he doesn’t admire him, but was surprised that he was in power for so long especially since he hurt so many people over the years. He said the article didn’t come out as he had hoped since he was thinking in Spanish while being interviewed, but was speaking in English.
Ozzie Guillen held a press conference on Apr. 10 to apologize again for his comments. He said it’s important that people can see his eyes while he apologizes so he can let them know exactly how he truly feels and what he’s thinking. The press conference was broadcast outside the Marlins stadium on a giant screen.
Some fans feel the Marlins have overreacted by suspending Guillen and have pointed out that he was simply speaking his mind and taking advantage of his right to freedom of speech. They said it’s ironic that he’s been punished considering freedom of speech is something Castro himself often shot down.