Ozzie Guillen does not love Fidel Castro. Let me make that clear right off the bat. But, his comments suggesting that he did love and respect the longevity Castro has had as a dictator in Cuba were beyond dumb.
I think we can all agree on that.
The comments highlight a much bigger issue in South Florida. When it comes to Castro, you can not give even an inkling of positivity about him to anyone in the Cuban community. The Marlins know that, and trust me, Guillen knows that, as well.
I'm a proud Cuban-American. Both my parents were both in Cuba and suffered through the Castro Revolution. My mom never got to see her mother near the end of her life or attend her funeral. I have aunts, uncles and cousins I have never met or barely spoken to because of Fidel Castro. Simply put, praising Castro for ANYTHING is about as taboo of a topic you can have to the Cuban community.
Was I shocked or angry about Guillen's comments? No. That's my honest answer. I know Ozzie Guillen. I've known him since he was a coach with the Fish a decade ago. He is not a bad person, he does not dislike Cubans, and he certainly does not love and respect Fidel Castro. I also know that Ozzie never thinks before he speaks. He says things and never seems to care about the consequences. Because of these reasons, I knew when I read the comments that Guillen wasn't trying to say he was pro-Castro.
But, here's the thing, I was born in the United States. I never lived through the pain of being in Cuba and having your childhood and life literally ripped away from you. My parents did, as did so many other Cubans in South Florida. That is where the real pain over these comments lies.
Anyone who can sit there and say this is no big deal just doesn't have a full understanding about all the things I said above. To Cubans, he's the equivalent of Hitler.
Can you imagine the uproar from the Jewish community if he said he respected Hitler because he got away with killing so many people during the Holocaust? Or how about the African-American community if he said he respected people who had slaves because they were able to get away with it for so long?
I'm not trying to compare terrible acts in history. This isn't like sports where you can have standings about who did the worst things. That's not the point. I just want to make it clear to everyone outside of the Cuban community why this is such a sensitive issue.
What makes the issue even more difficult to Cubans is that they're still suffering to this day. The Castro regime is still in charge some 90 miles away from Florida. The pain is very real and very close.
So, Guillen is now on his way back to South Florida to try and clear the air about his comments, and I think it's the right move.
I said it before and I'll say it again. Ozzie Guillen does not love and respect Fidel Castro. He needs to sit down on Tuesday and make that very clear. I think when people see his sincere apology, this issue will die down and Guillen and the team can go on with the season.
Yes, some people will never forgive him for these comments, but I think that's a bit extreme. I do not believe Guillen should be fired for these comments. I'm not even sure he should be suspended, even though that may happen.
It's the price Guillen is paying for having such a big mouth. If anything, this might finally teach him a very important lesson I teach my 6-year old daughter every single day; think before you speak.