MIAMI - The Marlins are preparing to face their fans at home Thursday for the first time since manager Ozzie Guillen apologized for his polarizing remarks about Fidel Castro, and now some of the teams top advertisers are responding to the controversy.
Guillen apologized Tuesday for his remarks to Time Magazine indicated he loved Fidel Castro and respected him for staying in power for so long, but the manager has been suspended for five games.
Keith Koenig, the owner of City Furniture, believes in the Marlins so much he invested thousands to place an ad in the Opening Day booklet.
"South Florida hates Fidel Castro," Koenig said.
Koenig traveled to Cuba with the archbishop a few weeks ago for Pope Benedict XVI's visit.
"I saw firsthand what terrible people have done to that wonderful country," he said.
Even though he doesn't agree with what Guillen said about Castro, Koenig said, "Let's forgive and forget."
"We won't change our program with the Marlins. I feel like the Marlins are going to be successful, and it's an important relationship in the community," Koenig said.
Vivian De Las Cuevas, president of the Cuban American Bar Association, is taking the opposite stance. The Association spent a lot of money to host a seminar and a party at Marlins Park, but now, it has pulled its sponsorship.
"Everybody has the right to say what they want to say, but we also have the right to not agree," De Las Cuevas said.
As far as Guillen's apology goes, De Las Cuevas said it raised more questions.
"We are not asking for his resignation. We are asking for a dialogue with the Marlins," De Las Cuevas said.
Koenig accepted the apology, however.
"I believe Ozzie deserves an opportunity to repent, which he has done, and let's move on," Koenig said.
Guillen spoke to local Cuban charities and plans to make a sizable donation. Details will be finalized by the end of the week.
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