|Can Ozzie survive?|
|Thursday, 12 April 2012 13:00|
South Florida's Cuban-American community flexed their muscles on the Miami Marlins recently, pressuring the organization to suspend manager Ozzie Guillen for his insensitive comments.
In an interview published in a recent Time magazine online article, Guillen had said that "I respect Fidel Castro...You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that [expletive] is still here."
The reaction to the published article was swift as Cuba- Americans in Miami called radio talk and sport shows demanding that Guillen be fired or submits his resignation. They also staged protests outside the new Marlins ballpark, located in the heart of the Little Havana Cuban-American community in Miami.
Reacting to the outrage on Tuesday morning, the team announced it had suspended Guillen, who has only managed the Marlins for five games in the recently commenced 2012 Major League Baseball season.
Meanwhile Guillen, who has been known for several off-the-wall comments in the past, appeared very contrite at a Miami press conference later, saying he felt he had betrayed the Cuban-American community and was very embarrassed. Guillen, a Venezuelan, asked to be forgiven for the comments made in the Time interview.
"First and foremost, Mr. Guillen's expressed admiration for Fidel Castro is completely unacceptable," stated Chairman of the City of Miami Commission, Francis Suarez. "Mr. Guillen's admiration for a dictator who has destroyed the lives of so many and who has violated the basic human rights of millions is shameful."
Marlin fan, Shane Eugene, an African American, called the decision to suspend Guillen "darn ridiculous. Sure he was stupid and politically incorrect to make such a comment as the Marlin's manager. He must know Miami is like an off-shore Cuba, and how much Fidel Castro is disliked by Cuban-Americans, but that does not justify him being suspended. It is a political issue, not a baseball issue."
Another non-Hispanic Marlin fan said "the Marlins are acting stupid. Let Guillen apologize publicly for his comments, but stand behind the man. He was employed to guide the team in winning the Major League championships. Management must be aware he is a man who says whatever he wants. Where is the famous American 'freedom of speech' in all this? Does it not apply in comments that Cubans don't like?"
Danille Bissasor was more abrupt in her comments. "In Miami Cubans run things. Offend their politics or their history at your peril. But this isn't finished. The Cuban-American community will not stop their protests against Guillen until he is fired."
Mario Rodriquez, a Cuban-American Kendall resident, is not satisfied with Guillen's five-game suspension or with Guillen's apology.
"There's no way Guillen can continue to manage a Miami team. Miami has a large Cuban community, and most of us had to flee our beloved country because of Castro's atrocious regime. How can the leader of a Miami organization publicly admit he admires Castro?"
In an earlier reaction to the brewing controversy, Guillen said Time had misrepresented his comments in translating the original version he made in Spanish which meant he couldn't believe that someone like Castro, who has hurt so many, is still in power.
In Tuesday's press conference, Guillen also said he accepted his five-game suspension.