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. ozob15

    If he can't sleep at night, he needs to drink more alcohol to sedate himself.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:38 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. pacman357

    Wow. Ozzie saying something stupid. My whole world has just been turned upside-down. Next thing, someone will convince me the Earth is actually round.

    BTW, I think people need to understand where Ozzie is coming from. Seems like it's only been about ten years since Ozzie's been trying to make people want to kill him. I bet the White Sox are reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal sorry to let Ozzie go.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:28 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Karloff

    Guillen mentions Obama, Castro, and Chavez–what a motley crew!

    April 10, 2012 at 4:46 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Latin Hammer

    I would love to see the response of the black community if someone made comments praising the kkk or Jews community if someone was praising Hittler.

    April 10, 2012 at 5:39 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. sameeker

    The guy said that he admired Castro. What is the big deal?

    April 10, 2012 at 5:58 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. frank anderson

    Forgotten in this mess with Sr. Quillen's intemperate selection of words of respect for Fidel is his historical support of the Venezuelan Dictator, Hugo Chavez. The central difference is the Cubans residing in Miami(not Cuba) are able to express themselves freely. This is definitely not the case of the opposition in Venezuela. I had the privilege as an educator from the US to reside and contribute in Venezuela for 32 years and can accurately attest to the current corruption, insecurities, and misguided "reforms" under the socialistic/communistic regime of the despot, Hugo Chavez. Unfortunately, many uninformed US citizens do not come close to comprehending the evil continuing to be promolgated by president Chavez. Ozzie Guillen has also contributed with is "mouth" to the perpetuation of the current demise of the former magnificent nation of Venezuela.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:28 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Mememe

    seriously??? who cares what a baseball coach says?

    April 10, 2012 at 7:15 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. DC Clark

    I live in Miami and I haven't heard any local outrage as the media portrays. Just another over blown media story

    April 10, 2012 at 7:23 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Ogzrebogir

    It is SAD thta the "freedom of speech" does not work here. HE SINCERELY admires Fidel CAstro and does not mateer if we like it or not or if he is right or NOT it is WHAT HE thinks , These are his pOliTICAL preferences we like it or not and SHOULD be respected. BUt we live in a Country thta prides on "freedom of speech and ideas" YET you always have to say the "right" thinks... What a shame.!!!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 7:29 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Free speech?

    Ozzie is an idiot, but I'm sure the majority of those who want his resignation fled Cuba for one of the reasons they want him canned, no freedom of speech.

    April 10, 2012 at 7:38 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. RF Burns

    Open mouth. Insert foot.

    April 10, 2012 at 7:49 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. chale74

    When someone comes for a country that is led by a dictator (Venezuela) that is financially and politicaly aligned with another dictatorship (Cuba), their views might not be as informed about the other dictator (Castro). He has probabaly been told by his government and state media that the negative stories about Castro and Cuba are US propaganda.

    April 10, 2012 at 7:51 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sensisence

      I'm pretty sure he knows enough guys around the league to not have to rely on hearsay like some of us. Remember, he hasn't been trolling in his moms basement for the last 20 years now has he..

      April 10, 2012 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
    • JC

      Castro's not mart enough to run even a small country, and this has become painfully obvious over the years. He had good intentions, and we all know those are hell's pavement.

      April 10, 2012 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  13. Joe B

    Growing up in Chicago I am not surprised by Ozzie's stupid comment. He should learn to shut up and talk about what he knows. The silence would be golden.

    April 10, 2012 at 8:12 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. dick

    He was, and is and will be an outspoken non thinking loose cannon and should be fined. But he will never change....!

    April 10, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Ruzz

    Welcome to the New America, Ozz. You have freedom of speech, but only if it agrees with the majority opinion.

    No one said any transplanted Cubans had to agree with the man, but he has the right to an opinion, and the right to expressit if he chooses. Hopefully there are as many people willing to march to protect that right as there are people willing to march to lynch him for using it.

    April 10, 2012 at 8:25 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom

      Amen Ruzz. I have been in the military for 19 years and I am willing to die for the right of Ozzie or any other American to say what he/she wants.

      April 10, 2012 at 8:39 am | Report abuse |
    • midranger

      Well said Ruzz! Besides, what did he say that was so inflammatory? He respected his ability to stay alive for 60 years in that environment. He didn't say he though he was a great man. This is why there will never be normal relations with Cuba, because of this large block of Cuban/American voters is FL.

      April 10, 2012 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
    • sbp

      So, do you have any concept as to what the first amendment MEANS? It means GOVERNMENT cannot abridge free speech. Do you see any government intervention here? He has a right to say whatever he wants, just like people offended by what he says have a right to stop buying his product, or his company has a right to fire him if they don't like what he says.

      You go and call your boss a idiot and when he fires you, say "free speech, free speech." See how far that gets you.

      April 10, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • BR

      Ruzz- I think you, like so many, are confusing "free speech" with "the right to keep your job/avoid public shaming if you say something ridiculous." The former is a right and is protected. The latter is not, and is the the reason free speech works. You can say whatever you want, but if you express publicly a ridiculous opinion, you get slammed for it. The right that allows Ozzie to say "I respect Fidel" is the same that allows the rest of the country to say, "Ozzie, you're an idiot."

      April 10, 2012 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
    • alvaro

      cubans love to protest in miami, but they don't have the goats to protest in cuba not even when the pope was there twice they are cowards and they do not believe in freedom of speech. They used women in cuba to protest against fidel but men are hiding under their beds. every country.. fights for their rights cuba is the Exception.

      April 10, 2012 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
    • latuya83

      And so he did, he expressed himself and now the Cuban community is expressing their feeling and they are the ones that the Marlins are trying to attract to fill their stadium, MONEY trumps freedom of speech any day.

      April 10, 2012 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
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