Guillen Suspended Five Games Over Pro-Castro Comments. Fair or Foul?
Marlins Suspend Manager for 5 Games Over Pro-Castro Comments
By THE NEW YORK TIMES
Ozzie Guillen, brought in to manage the Miami Marlins as part of an effort to court the city’s Latino population, was suspended for five games by the team for his recent remarks that seemed to laud Fidel Castro. Guillen, who left his team in Philadelphia to fly back to Miami, publicly apologized Tuesday in a televised news conference, saying his remarks about Castro were “the greatest mistake of my life.”
“I’m on my knees,” Guillen, speaking in Spanish, said.
Guillen, who had developed a reputation for incendiary public comments — a homophobic slur, among them — in his tumultuous tenure as manager of the Chicago White Sox, said in an interview with Time magazine that he admired Castro’s survival skills.
“The Marlins acknowledge the seriousness of the comments attributed to Guillen,” the team said in a statement. “The pain and suffering caused by Fidel Castro cannot be minimized, especially in a community filled with victims of the dictatorship.”
For Guillen, who often seemed to teeter on the brink of being fired in Chicago, the remark seemed meant to be funny, maybe even self-deprecating. But in Miami, with its politically active and passionately committed community of Cuban emigres, many of whom fled Castro’s authoritarian rule in Cuba, Guillen’s remarks set off the kind of firestorm he had never before faced.
People, including local elected officials, were calling on him to resign. Protests were being planned. And Miami’s management was reeling. It was, then, unclear whether Guillen, even with his suspension, could survive the flap.
“I say a lot of things and I never apologize,” he said at the news conference. “But now I have to because I did the wrong thing. I’m behind the Cuban community.”
For the Marlins, Guillen’s predicament represented a marketing nightmare. The team opened its season in its expensive new stadium last week — a $634 million, retractable-roofed monument in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, home to many Cuban immigrants. The team boasts a number of multimillion-dollar acquisitions and was clearly intent on at last tapping into the city and state’s enormous number of Latino residents and baseballs fans.
“My family’s in Miami and I’m willing to do everything to try to make it better,” Guillen said at the news conference. “I will help the Cuban community, the Latino community, like I always do. I hope I get better and people understand my situation and I’m willing to do everything in my power and the Marlins’ power to help this community.”
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