OK, Ozzie Guillen was undeniably insensitive to the Cuban-American community when he said he respected Fidel Castro as a survivor. But he didn't get the facts wrong.
On Tuesday Florida Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen couldn’t backtrack fast enough from the niceish things he’d said about Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. At a press conference in Miami, Guillen said that no, he doesn’t really believe Castro is someone to be “loved,” as he’d said in an interview with Time magazine. Nor did he really “respect” Fidel as a survivor who’d outwitted countless assassination plots.
Guillen said that he’d since met with women who’d been abused by the Castro regime and he truly understood the depth of animosity towards the Cuban leader that still exists in south Florida.
“I feel like I betrayed the Latin community,” Guillen said at his mea-culpa fest. “I am here to say I am sorry with my heart in my hands, and I want to say I am sorry to all those people who are hurt directly or indirectly [by my remarks].”
Will it be enough to save Guillen’s job? Only time will tell if that’s the case. He’s been suspended for five games in the wake of local protests about his Castro remarks. Since the Marlins have just opened a new ballpark and need to make the most of their new moment in the Miami sun, it’s possible that ex-Red Sox skipper Terry Francona is already stocking up on SPF 60. You know, just in case somebody calls.
But here’s the thing: Guillen got something right about Castro. And that something is the very reason he’s in trouble.
It’s correct that Castro, against long odds, has defied US efforts to oust or kill him for decades. There was the hapless US-sponsored invasion (Bay of Pigs), the crackpot schemes (exploding sea shells intended for his diving spots), and straightforward economic pressure (economic embargoes).