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FB – Let’s Be Friends
Just minutes prior to taking the podium in front of a room jam-packed with members of the Miami media on Tuesday morning, the Miami Marlins announced that manager Ozzie Guillen had been suspended by their front office for five games following comments that he made earlier in the week regarding Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
“I feel like I betrayed my Latin community,” was the English translation of one of Guillen’s opening statements. Guillen spoke in his native Spanish for most of the press conference. “I am here to say I am sorry with my heart in my hands and I want to say I’m sorry to all those people who are hurt indirectly or directly.”
“I’m sorry for what I said and for putting people in a position they don’t need to be in. And for all the Cuban families, I’m sorry,” said Guillen. “I hope that when I get out of here, they will understand who Ozzie Guillen is. How I feel for them. And how I feel about the Fidel Castro dictatorship. I’m here to face you, person to person. It’s going to be a very difficult time for me.”
Bench coach Joey Cora will manage the club until Guillen’s return next week.
In what has become an infamous interview with Time Magazine a few days ago, Guillen stated, “I love Fidel Castro.” His immediate reason for the remark was Castro’s ability to remain in power after several decades despite the overwhelming hatred that Cuban citizens have for him.
This sparked immediate outrage from Cubans in Miami, who compose the city’s majority population, especially where the Marlins new ballpark is located, Little Havana. The last thing they ever want to hear is someone supporting the man whose tyrant communist practices have caused them and their families relentless suffering for years on end, forcing them to flee their homeland with zero intent of ever returning.
“Guillen’s remarks, which were offensive to an important part of the Miami community and others throughout the world, have no place in our game,” said MLB commissioner Bud Selig.
With an off-day in Philadelphia during the Marlins series against the Phillies, Guillen decided that it would be best to take a flight back to South Florida on Tuesday and apologize for his insensitive comments.
Along with multiple apologies to those he offended, Guillen repeated numerous times during the press conference that he does not have any admiration for Castro.
“The interpretation didn’t come out as I wanted,” Guillen said in defense of his controversial words. “I was thinking in Spanish and I said the wrong thing in English.”
No prepared statement in front of him, Guillen spoke directly from the heart.
“Everybody in the world hates Fidel Castro, including myself,” said Guillen. “I was surprised that he’s still in power. That’s what I was trying to say to the journalist. And that’s the first thing that came out of my mouth. I admit it. It was the wrong words.”
Much of the Miami community did not believe that Guillen’s apology sufficed, and a series of boycotts and protests outside of the stadium will take place once the Marlins return this Friday for the first of a three game series against the Houston Astros.
Despite many of these people wanting Guillen fired, Marlins president David Samson assured that the team never considered it.
Positive comments about Castro were also made by Guillen back in a 2008 interview with the Chicago Sun Times, but it was essentially a non-story because of the paper’s location.
“I will do everything to try to make things be better,” said Guillen. “I’m willing to do everything in my power, in the Marlins power, to do everything I can to help this community.”
“This is the biggest mistake of my life. When you make a mistake this big … I will learn from this,” he said.
Image Courtesy of Keith Allison