April 10th, 2012
12:34 PM ET

Marlins suspend manager Guillen for 5 games; he apologizes for Castro comments

The Miami Marlins suspended manager Ozzie Guillen for five games, effective immediately, on Tuesday, just before Guillen apologized for recent comments praising Cuba's Fidel Castro.

Guillen sparked a 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."

Guillen apologized during a press conference Tuesday, first speaking in Spanish, saying that he had "betrayed a Latin community" and that he was speaking to "ask for forgiveness with my heart in my hand."

But, he said, he originally spoke of Castro in Spanish and "the translation to English was a bit confusing."

In response to questions in English on Tuesday, Guillen said he was "very stupid" to make comments outside of baseball.

"Politics has nothing to do with sports," Guillen said.

"This is the biggest mistake so far in my life," he said.

Guillen said with the comments he'd let down the community.

"I'm very, very, very sorry," he said. "I will do everything in my power to make it better."

"I live in Miami, my family is in Miami," he said. "I will do everything in my power ... to help this community like I always do."

"I'm sitting here very embarrassed and very sad," he said at the press conference.

"I'm gonna be a Miami guy for the rest of my life," Guillen said. "I want to walk in the street with my head up and not feel as bad as I feel right now."

Guillen pledged to follow through on his promises to help out in Miami's Latin and Cuban communities.

"I'm going to be behind them 100%," he said.

He said he wanted to be with the team, which plays in Philadelphia again on Wednesday, but would not fight the suspension.

"I cannot complain about anything because I am not in a position to complain about anything they want to do with me," he said.

Guillen said he showed poor judgement, but not lack of intelligence, with the original Castro comments.

"You don't have this job if you're dumb," he said. "If I don't learn from this, I will call myself dumb."

The team said Tuesday the original comments were hurtful.

"The pain and suffering caused by Fidel Castro cannot be minimized in a community filled with victims of the dictatorship," the team said in a statement before Guillen's press conference.

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said the suspension of Guillen was appropriate.

"I expect those who represent Major League Baseball to act with the kind of respect and sensitivity that the game’s many cultures deserve.  Mr. Guillen’s remarks, which were offensive to an important part of the Miami community and others throughout the world, have no place in our game," Selig said in a statement.

Guillen earlier in the week said he had 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 Sunday 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."

Guillen was named the Marlins manager on September 28. He previously managed the Chicago White Sox for eight years, including leading them to the 2005 World Series title.

He is a native of Venezuela and became a U.S. citizen in 2006.

soundoff (2,195 Responses)
  1. jaintn

    Give the guy a break. He probably hasn't picked up a newspaper (other than the sports page) or read a book in his entire adult life. I'd wager he doesn't even know Castro is communist.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • School you

      I'd wager he can't read.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Skipper

    Guillen spoke the truth. He didn't say anything hateful or questionable. This is a sad statement indeed as to the state of our society.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Fred Evil

      Very true. Can't even demonstrate respect to someone for having, holding, and believing in their values, simply because we disagree with them, however vehemently.

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

      True. We Americans are all about disrespecting anyone who disagrees with us. Ask the Cubans if they want Batista back.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  3. Capitalism = Economic Dictatorship of the Unscrupulous = Death to Working People

    The world needs more people like Castro and less people like the fascist stooges Bush and Obama, as well as fascist traitors in Miami

    April 10, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. Michael

    I was enjoying beginning of Guillen press conference. Really.
    Understood 75% of what he was saying based on my few years of college Spanish. And then CNN treats a non-English language like an evil curse... and cuts away to a commercial, then back to its policital pundits... while they await a translator!
    Nice work, CNN. Way to be prepared. And treat another language like an annoying pest.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  5. sbp

    Hey, you out there! Yeah, the guy about to post about "freedom of speech"! Yes, you.


    April 10, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      ^^^This. Free speech is about the government, NOT your private employer. Relax people, his rights weren't violated. He upset his boss and paid the price, just like any of us.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  6. black helicopters

    So by suspending him, the League and the owners are admitting that Ozzie speaks for all Miamians and for everyone of Hispanic descent. He is just a baseball manager, right? I mean it's not like he's some kind of world leader or something? And if I'm not mistaken, baseball is just a pasttime still, is it not?

    April 10, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
  7. Sevinthseal

    I like how everyone thinks this is a free speech issue. The 1st Amendment is designed to prevent the government from laying a finger on you for voicing your opinion. Your employer, on the other hand, can sack you just because he doesn't like your face. I wonder how long it will take people to learn the difference.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • BillyD1953

      Don't you get it? That's the whole point. We realize that an employer doesn't have to recognize your right to free speech, but in a society where most of us need our jobs to live this makes the right to free speech meaningless. As long as your job depends on you not exercising your civil liberties, then your civil liberties are meaningless!

      April 10, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Technically you are correct. However, I think the bottom line is that people who state that it is a free speech issue are really expressing that it is such a shame that in America a person can't have a thought that is different that others without being shackled in public to keep everyone else in line.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  8. BillyD1953

    I guess in America we have free speech–until we try to exercise it and then we get punished. What's the point of free speech if you lose your job for exercising it or get punished by your employer for exercising it! The irony of this is inescapable–you compliment a dictator and the folks who don't like him take away your right to free speech. Hypocrisy!!

    April 10, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
  9. Steve

    Add me to the list of people who consider this an assault on free speech. I would admire a team who respectfully disagreed with Ozzie but allowed him to express his thoughts...which weren't evil.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
  10. j donahue

    wow..no free speech for americans when it comes to the cuban community hey guess what for the peasant and poor in cuba Fidel hasnt been such a bad thing..when he took over the literacy rate was less than 25% it is now near 90%...health education and sol for the poor is much improved..but hey the cuban community prefers to use emotion and shouting instead of facts...

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


    April 10, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jorge

    Another clear example of what the press is doing to the freedom of expression of individuals. With so much shock-factor and news organization driving the news instead of simply reporting them and opinion columns claiming to speak for the "outrage of the masses" we have come to a point where the allegedly all-important values of the American way-of-life, like your freedom to have an opinion and voice it, are rescinded because anything that is perceived by the press to be worth of causing shock will be milked until someone is hung by the public opinion. It is a sad day when people cannot have divergent opinions.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  13. sbp

    Uh, no James Brown, this has nothing to do with freedom of speech. That "Freedom" is only freedom from Government intervention.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  14. glu

    A white man would have been banished from the league and relentlessly destroyed by the media.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  15. TriXen

    As much as I staunchly disagree with his political views, I also disagree with the suspension. His political views have nothing to do with baseball. Still, I understand they have to do this for political reasons. If they didn't suspend him, they'd probably sell a lot fewer season tickets this year!

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