Miamians Protest Marlins' Guillen

Download Audio
Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen recently drew the ire of many with controversial comments about Fidel Castro. (AP)
Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen recently drew the ire of many Miami residents after making controversial comments about Fidel Castro. (AP)

On Tuesday, about 100 angry Miamians gathered outside Marlins Park to protest manager Ozzie Guillen's expressions of admiration for Fidel Castro in a recent Time interview.

"Every time we see Guillen, we are going to remember his words," said protester Maria Luisa. "Loving, admiring... he can think the way he wants, but we have the right as well to say 'No, Guillen! Please go home!'"

Guillen was quoted in the magazine's April 9 issue as saying "I love Fidel Castro." Guillen added that he respected the Cuban leader for his longevity. Later, he said he'd misspoken, but protestor Steven Miro wasn't buying it.

"'Love' and 'amor' is the same thing. There's no way he could misconstrue that in English or in Spanish," Miro said. "He's been here long enough. He knows what he did wrong."

The protest outside Marlins Park coincided with Guillen's press conference inside the stadium.

"I do not blame those people to think what they think right now because they have all the right," Guillen said. "Because I hurt a lot of people, and I'm aware of that."

Before Tuesday's press conference, the Marlins suspended Guillen for five games. They lost their first two games with under bench coach Joey Cora. Guillen maintained that when he was speaking with the Time reporter, he had meant to express not love or admiration for Castro, but wonder that he had remained in power for so long "when he had hurt so many people."

And perhaps that is what he meant, who knows? Over the years, there has been much confusion about what Ozzie Guillen has said and done, and what he has meant. And perhaps that problem has been further complicated by Guillen's liberal use of alcohol, which Ozzie himself acknowledged recently.

In any case, to his credit, this time around, the Marlins manager didn't blame his problems on the writer who'd interviewed him or on anything else. He took responsibility for saying something that he'd either never meant, or now wishes he'd never said.

"It's stupid," he said. "I don't say "dumb," because I'm not dumb. You [don't] have this job if you're dumb."

Even if Guillen is correct, many in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, where sits the Marlins' gleaming new taxpayer-funded stadium, will be dismayed when Guillen returns to his job. But some members of Miami's Cuban community are prepared to move on, including el Nuevo Herald sports columnist Jorge Ebro, who's also a recent immigrant from Cuba.

"I think this is going to be forgotten in the short term," he said. "But if Guillen continues being Guillen, that's another story. I think that, eventually, the fans want to see baseball and want to see the Marlins successful in Little Havana."

Guillen is scheduled to return to the bench Tuesday for the Marlins' home game against the Chicago Cubs.

This segment aired on April 14, 2012.

Bill Littlefield Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.



More from Only A Game

Listen Live