April 9th, 2012
04:29 PM ET

Ozzie Guillen to fly home to Miami to address Fidel Castro backlash

Ozzie Guillen has a knack for controversial statements and it's easy to treat his bombast as Ozzie being Ozzie, but his latest words on his respect for former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro aren't going away - not in Miami.

Guillen, who took over the Miami Marlins this season after eight years with the Chicago White Sox, announced he was flying back to Miami after the Phillies game tonight to hold a press conference about the remarks, according to The Miami Herald.

“I was planning to do something Friday, but (Tuesday) we have the day off and I want to make everything clear so people can talk to me face-to-face,” Guillen told the paper. “They can ask me whatever questions they want, and the sooner the better for the people, for the ball-club and for me. I want to tell people what is going on in my mind and what I believe.”

He said he hasn't been able to sleep for three days because of the controversy and he wanted to speak to the media and people of Miami in person, rather than via a statement.

“I want the people there,” Guillen said. “I feel embarrassed. ... Only my wife knows how bad it’s been last few days. I feel very guilty, sad and embarrassed. Anyone who wants to be there, feel free. I want the Cuban people to understand what I’m going to say because everything I’m going to say is true.”

Guillen sparked the firestorm when he told Time magazine recently that he respected Castro for being able to lead Cuba for six decades.

"I respect Fidel Castro," Guillen said in the article. "You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that son of a bitch is still there."

A group of Cuban-Americans threatened to march on the stadium Tuesday and boycott the Marlins until they fired the Guillen, Yahoo Sports reported.

The manager said he has apologized to Cuban-Americans in the Marlins organization, including Spanish-language broadcasters Felo Ramirez and Yiki Quintana, as well as Cuban-born Phillies pitcher Jose Contreras, ESPN reported.

The Marlins released a statement saying there was nothing to respect about Castro, "a brutal dictator who has caused unthinkable pain for more than 50 years. We live in a community filled with victims of this dictatorship, and the people in Cuba continue to suffer today."

Guillen backtracked on the remark yesterday and apologized to anyone he offended with the Castro remark, telling the Palm Beach Post that he is "against everything, 100%," regarding Castro's reign in Cuba.

Elaborating on his use of the term, "respect," he said, "I respect (President) Obama, I respect (Venezuelan President Hugo) Chavez because I always respect people."
Perhaps lost in the controversy were Guillen's remarks late last week that for a quarter century or more he has gotten drunk and gone to sleep after every game.

"I've got my routine. Game's over, stay in the lobby of the hotel, the hotel bar, get drunk and go to sleep," he told the Palm Beach Post.

"I get drunk because I'm happy because we won or get drunk because I'm very sad and disturbed because we lose. Same routine for 25, 28 years. It hasn't changed. I don't like to go out."

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Filed under: Baseball • Cuba • Fidel Castro • Florida • Protest • Sports • U.S. • World
soundoff (130 Responses)
  1. JLewis

    Ozzie, just put up a string of wins and no-one will remember or care what you said in April.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  2. RTB

    So he respects Castro? So what? It's a free country.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  3. svann

    The last people we want running our country is Bautista Cubans.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Rafael Bocanegra

      You know cuba is not too far away why don't you give it a try and live there for a spell,during Batistas regime at least Cuba had an economy,and above all they even had a better prospect of moving forward,let's not remind anyone that at the time the cuban peso was 1 cent above the american dollar,under fidel it has been a continue downward spiral,and by the way the Batistas cubans that came over during the 60's 70'/s made MIAMI the city that never would've been otherwise.

      April 10, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bluejeans

      They're NOT running the country already???

      April 11, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Chocolate Male

    For him to coach a team in Miami and make the remarks he did, it would be the same for a Yankee coach to discuss his respect for Hitler. The community would be up in arms. He should have gotten more time off to make it hurt.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  5. M. Edward

    I've lived in So. FL for over 40 years, I've had many dear and close friends that were either born in Cuba and escaped and or were sent here before the Revolution or who came after and still have family there. Frankly, it's time to get over the Castro thing, I believe the embargo has proven only one thing, it's outlived its usefulness and perhaps we and the Cuban people would be better served had it been ended years ago. If Democracy is to work, the best way to "free" the Cuban people is to expose them to the democratic process them and let the example work. Openness', is the only way to change the government in any society. Suspending Ozzie is the opposite of one of the most important principles of the democratic process, "Free Speech." Get over it and move on!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Rafael Bocanegra

      You know I agree with you, it's been 53 years of dictadorship running the island,so maybe we all should be more forgiving,of Hitler's massacre,Stanlin's,Mao,The KKK,The everyday senseless murder's ocurring in our street's The raping,pillaging,thievery ocurring on a daily basis,let's be more forgiving overall.

      April 10, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. acapulco liem

    So, Ozzie knows his history, what should have Castro done after the failed Bay pigs, The U.S. had a history in Latin America of Coup De Etats, of killing the Countries leaders, stealing the nations resources our action (U.S.) in the region is what push Castor toward the Russians. Most of the Issue we have we have had, we have a heavy hand in, Iran, N.Korea, Venezuela

    April 10, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. me

    Wow an 'entertainer' said something stupid, let's make a big deal about it. Are we to expect learned statements from them in the first place??

    April 10, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bluejeans

      He's a professional coach – not an entertainer.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. kenburch

    Why does everybody in MIami HAVE to appease those fascist exiles?
    The people in Little Havana don't care about "democracy"-they just want the old order back. Well, news flash, folks: nobody ON the island WANTS you to go home and run the place as your own private club again. It's over...just move on already.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bluejeans

    pfft........... Not the first time he said this. First interview was in 2008. Fire him.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. M. Edward

    And your contribution to the conversation, was?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
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