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. John D

    In America we have a right to our opinion...just because someone does not agree with it does not mean we have to change. It is what I fought for...and continue to fight for today. Although I do not agree with his statements it is his right to say it...I fought hard to give him that right.

    April 10, 2012 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
    • sparky

      I fought too, but i didn't fight so gazillionaire ballplayers can glorify a tyrant in my own country. I fought so idiots that believe Castro is someone to respect can freely leave and go live within his yoke.

      Your problem is you don't know what the hell to fight for and what not to fight for

      April 10, 2012 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
    • sbp

      John D (not sure reply function is working): we have a right to an opinion, but that "right" is the right not to have the government stop us. People who don't like an opinion have a right to protest it too, and employers have a right not to employ someone with an opinion they don't like. That is their right.

      April 10, 2012 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
  2. sparky

    I'm glad this insect isn't in Chicago anymore

    April 10, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  3. Paco Carpy

    I think Ozzie should be fired and then every Marlin player should be asked how they feel about Castro and if any one of them answer anything other than "I hate Castro" they should be immedaitely released. If this is thelitmus test for the Marlins organization and for the fan base for the Marlins then count me out. I also respect Castro for his ability to outlast 60 years of America's contempt and attempts to murder him.

    April 10, 2012 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
  4. rafael

    well like Guillen there are millions in Latin America and im one of them,without Fidel,Lula,Chavez,Corea,Evo,Cristina
    the USA will owned us rightnow,Fidel is not good for the Cubans that have all the money that they stoled from the country and now leave the American way in Miami,thinking that they too are Americans just because off the money,now most of the poor Cubans that are in Miami have a different way of thinking,Fidel is good and im stupid like Guillen too because i love him too.

    April 10, 2012 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
    • latuya83

      @ Rafael-First off the US wouldn't own anyone, and secondly, this coming from a Cuban, I would rather the US owned Cuba any day over having Fidel Castro there destorying the country and its people. BTW Rafael where are you posting from could it be the big bad USA?

      April 10, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
  5. Nowayjose39123

    Who cares what he thinks about Fidel Castro? When I last checked, we had free speech in the US. You don't have to like his views. If you hate him that much, don't go to the games. It's not like anyone in Miami is anyway.

    April 10, 2012 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
  6. Fish

    He brought Zambrano to the Marlins. What do you expect....

    April 10, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  7. idiot

    If you listen to the interview, he acctually said "I love Fidel Castro".

    April 10, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  8. Sean

    FFS, he's a baseball manager. What does his opinion on anything other than baseball matter? I may never understand why we give celebrities the the influence we do on politics and world affairs; these aren't the experts. They are, in fact, as far from being an expert as you can find. Yet time and time again, we line up to buy their line of manure.

    April 10, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  9. DrTDWood

    While I don't agree with Ozzie he has the right to say it and it has nothing to do with his job as a BASEBALL MANAGER! Interesting that Cuban-Americans who were victims of Castro would be so quickly forget that we do have such a freedom here. Why is it again that when they come to our shores they are given asylum but others get deported? Seems as if they have forgotten about grace, interesting coming from a supposedly zealous Catholic community.

    April 10, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  10. JC

    Give Castro his due. He seized power not for personal profit but because America was turning his country into another Vegas, turning their kids into busboys and chorus girls instead of doctors and lawyers. He did such a cruddy job that he wrecked his country's culture anyway; better if he'd stuck to baseball. But he's not a monster, just a guy trying to do his best. Anyone who sincerely believes you can make Communism work has my sympathy and pity anyway.

    April 10, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  11. Marlins GM

    He will be fired. What was I thinking when I hired this loser. I mean the Whitesox stunk under him and he's an alcoholic. What was I thinking when chose him to coach our team in a crucial year for us. I should fire myself too.

    April 10, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  12. Stupid is as stupid does

    "I want to tell people what is going on in my mind and what I believe.”

    Ozzie being Ozzie, that could be a huge mistake.

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

      I agree. I mean, hasnt he already told us what he believes. Enough! His brain is swimming in alcohol. He's cooked! Get him outa MLB.

      April 10, 2012 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      Sometimes I don't mind a man who says what he's thinking. It makes it easier to see who he really is.,

      April 10, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  13. ArtInChicago

    You said stupid stuff as a player and coach here in Chicago, so all that happened was you continued your stupid ways. Go coach the Cuban national team.

    April 10, 2012 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  14. T Rodri

    Whatever happened to freedon of speech?????

    April 10, 2012 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
    • cw

      Learn what freedom of speech means, T Rodri, PLEASE...

      April 10, 2012 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      Freedom of speech is about government not being able to interfere in speech. Last time I checked, the government wasn't telling him he couldn't say what he wanted. He has the right to say what he wants and the Cuban-Americans have the right to be upset. I don't honestly think its a big deal but then again, I'm not from Cuba so it doesn't matter what I think.

      April 10, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Marlins GM

      Well, he had it and look what it did to him. He has to maintain an image for Miami and he just stepped in a big pile of it. I mean of things to say in Miami! REALLY?

      April 10, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Victor

      Yes, "freedom of speech". It means he won't be arrested or killed for what he said, but he still has to attest for it with the general public.

      April 10, 2012 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
    • kath

      he's a drunk and loser – he doesn't deserve freedom of speech – read the first amendment again – he has freedom of speech but there are consequences also. He won't go to jail but there are consequences for what he said. He needs to be out of the MLB. Who on that team can respect him anymore?

      April 10, 2012 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Rekenstrana's Homunculus

      Victor: "Yes, "freedom of speech". It means he won't be arrested or killed for what he said, but he still has to attest for it with the general public."

      No, he doesn't...

      April 10, 2012 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • @youignantdotcom

      First amendment rights do not carry over in the workplace. You can legally say anything you want, but your employer has a right to fire you for your statements.

      April 10, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Giorgio Cerboncini

      This is freedom of speech. Guillen can say what he thinks and anyone has the right to opine on whatever he says. If only one person is allowed to say what he thinks without any retort, then we are mirroring the censorship process of places like Cuba and, most recently, Venezuela, where only one point of view is to be widely accepted, while anything diverging from it is shot down and labeled as subversive. That's why people like Chavez are in power, because at one point while living under a democracy -as bogus as it might have been- he was allowed to have his say, and now that he is in power, he does not allow an adverse opinion to his ideals, to the point that he deems it necessary to shut down television stations.
      Mr Guillen is most welcome to his opinions, stupid as they might be. But sometimes in his rhetoric he fails to acknowledge the fact that his point of view has a counter point, and a repercussion as well.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JC

    "I fought too, but i didn't fight so gazillionaire ballplayers can glorify a tyrant in my own country. I fought so idiots that believe Castro is someone to respect can freely leave and go live within his yoke."
    Your problem is you don't know what you fought for. What you describe is not America. Maybe you should freely leave and go somewhere else yourself? Either way, no one will make you be quiet.

    April 10, 2012 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
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