Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen has incensed the Cuban community in Miami with comments he made to Time Magazine about his feelings toward dictator Fidel Castro, and today he’ll have to eat a little bit of crow.
“I respect Fidel Castro,” Guillen said in the magazine interview. “You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that (SOB) is still here.”
The comments caused a backlash against Guillen and have several people calling for his resignation. The chairman of the Florida Hispanic Legislative Caucus says he wants “punitive measures” taken against the outspoken manager. All this comes at possibly the worst time, since the Marlins have recently debuted a new stadium in Little Havana in the hopes of drawing bigger crowds this season.
In the wake of scheduled protests today, Guillen has made plans to publicly apologize to Miami and the Cuban community, saying he is embarrassed by his words.
“I want the people there. Whoever feels about it, ask me any questions. I want you to ask what you ask, because I feel bad? Yes. I feel embarrassed? Yes,” Guillen said yesterday.
UPDATE: The Marlins have announced they are suspending Guillen for five games.
“The Marlins acknowledge the seriousness of the comments attributed to Guillen,” team reps 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.”
During his apology today, Guillen spoke in Spanish: “I feel like I betrayed my Latin community,” Guillen said, according to ESPN’s translation of his comments in Spanish. “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.”
Guillen says the suspension takes a backseat to the damage he’s done to his relationship with the Cuban community and that he is willing to do anything he can to repair it.
“I will do everything to try to make things be better,” he said. “I’m willing to do everything in my power, in the Marlins power, to do everything I can to help this community.”