It didn’t take long for Ozzie Guillen to put his foot in his mouth.
Five games into his tenure with the Marlins, the Miami manager is returning to Miami to explain himself as a firestorm brews over some favorable comments he made about Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
At least two local officials are now saying that Guillen should lose his job over the remarks, and the chairman of the Florida Hispanic Legislative Caucus called yesterday for “punitive measures” against him.
Hoping to calm the storm, Guillen is briefly leaving his team in Philadelphia and flying to Miami to apologize today at Marlins Park. The Marlins and Phillies will resume their series on Wednesday after today’s day off.
Guillen, who is from Venezuela, told Time magazine he loves Castro and respects him for being able to remain in power for so long.
Before yesterday’s game, Guillen said he’s been losing sleep over his comments and wants to set the record straight.
“I’m going to make everything clear what’s going on,” he said. “People can see me and talk. I’ve already talked to people, but I think it’s the proper thing to see my eyes. They can see me and ask whatever question they want. I think sooner is better. Better for the ballclub, better for me.”
He apologized this past weekend right after the story broke, but some Cuban Americans are still quite upset. One group is planning a demonstration at the ballpark today that was organized before Guillen said he would fly back to Miami.
Francis Suarez, chairman of the Miami city commission, says Ozzie Guillen should be fired.
“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,” Suarez said in a statement. “On behalf of many angry residents, I’m calling for real action to be taken and for the removal of Mr. Guillen.”
Joe Martinez, chairman of the Miami-Dade County board of commissioners, issued a formal statement calling for Guillen’s resignation.
“This unfortunate comment is an insult to the citizens of Miami-Dade who have been victims of a tyrant in power for over 50 years,” Martinez said.
State Sen. Rene Garcia, chairman of the Florida Hispanic Legislative Caucus, said Guillen’s comments were appalling and insulting. In a letter to Marlins president David Samson, Garcia said he expects the Marlins to take action.
“If the Miami Marlins are to be respected in this community, your organization must stand with the Cuban-American exiled community and execute expedient punitive measures against Mr. Guillen which will rectify the situation,” Garcia wrote.
The club issued a statement last weekend saying there was nothing to respect about Fidel Castro, but Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the statement wasn’t enough.
“For too long, the Marlins organization has been the source of controversies in our community,” Gimenez said, “and I now challenge them to take decisive steps to bring this community back together.”
Guillen said his news conference would be open to “anybody that wants to be there.”
“I know I hurt a lot of people,” Guillen said. “I want to get the thing over with.”
More in the video below.
- Guillen to Return to Florida for Castro Apology (abcnews.go.com)
- Ozzie Guillen, Miami Marlins Manager, Apologizes For Praise of Fidel Castro (thehollywoodgossip.com)
- Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen Apologizes For Saying He Loves Fidel Castro (tracking.si.com)