Ozzie Guillen has made a number of controversial remarks over his career. But this week, the Miami Marlins manager appears to have gone a step too far, saying in a Time.com interview, “I love Fidel Castro.”
The Marlins released a statement denouncing Guillen’s remarks and suspending the manager for five games, a signal of how deeply felt his comments were in South Florida, which has a large Cuban American population.
Castro retains the ability to stir outrage in the U.S., particularly among Cuban Americans who fled his regime.
He retains that ability despite no longer leading Cuba, and despite his failing health -- 50 years after the Cuban missile crisis and five years after he gave up power.
Particularly among the Cuban-American community, the wounds from Castro still run deep.
In part, that is because his regime remains in control in Cuba, through his brother, Raul, now the country’s president. There are also regular, small reminders of Castro’s impact on the U.S. Last month, a new book argued that Castro knew about plans to assassinate President John F. Kennedy.
Some Cuban Americans feel frustrated that Castro has not been held responsible for what they see as his misdeeds. Several weeks ago, for example, Pope Benedict XVI met with Castro, but did not openly criticize the island’s Communist regime.
In a 2010 piece on Castro, Post columnist George Will quoted JFK‘s words after the Bay of Pigs invasion of April 1961, when JFK said Cuba is “the top priority in the United States government -- all else is secondary -- no time, money, effort or manpower is to be spared.”
A Gallup monthly survey released in November showed Castro is even less popular in the U.S. than the higherly unpopular U.S. Congress:
The outrage in Miami today is palpable. Protests are filling the streets, some fans say they will boycott the baseball team, and many others are calling for Guillen to be fired.
“We don't need a guy like that teaching our children that kind of behavior,” Elena Soutullo, 60, said to the Miami Herald about Guillen’s remarks on Castro. “I won't allow my children, grandchildren, to watch the games if he stays.”