Florida Marlin’s manager Ozzie Guillen has been suspended for five games by team ownership, and is facing nuclear fallout for the comments he made about loving Fidel Castro and respecting him for staying in power so long.
The Cuban-American communities in Florida are up in arms about the comments and some are calling for Guillen to be fired for being so insensitive.
The national news outlets are all covering the apology that Guillen made in a press conference Friday and, depending upon their geographical location, are either calling for a lynching, or shrugging their shoulders in resigned indifference.
The problem with the Guillen situation is twofold. One, there are a number of people who agree with Guillen in his admiration for Castro.
Not because they agree with Castro, or his policies, but because the man has been in charge of Cuba since 1959 and has survived countless assassination attempts on his life.
Even those closest to him, including ex-lover Marita Lorenz, were unsuccessful in ending his life.
It’s like an old Toyota pick-up truck that has 400,000 miles on it. You don’t admire the beauty of it, or the shake, shimmy and rattle that threatens to knock out your teeth every time you drive to town, but you do have to admire the workmanship and care that went into keeping such a vehicle around for so long.
I don’t admire Castro for his policies, or for the way he ran his country before turning over power in 2008, but I have to agree with Guillen in a grudging respect for anyone or anything that can withstand so many people trying to remove him from power.
In a sociology class offered at Western Oregon University by Liberal Arts Professor PhD. Dean Braa back in the early 2000s, it was proffered that Cuba had one of the best health care systems in the world – socialist medicine at its finest, including excellent care for AIDS and HIV patients.
The care for those patients was so excellent, in fact, that there were those poor and needy who tried to infect themselves with the disease so they could live in AIDS compounds where all their daily needs were taken care of, according to Braa.
Other doctors who have studied the epidemic, agree.
“In Cuba, access to medical care is the right available to all persons with HIV,” Tim Holtz, M.D., said in his paper titled Summary of HIV and AIDS Issues in Cuba. “Though it is a cruel dilemma, they are able to chose between enjoyment of personal liberty and privacy by living at home, or taking advantage of their social rights to housing, food, income, recreation, a supportive environment and medical care by living in a sanitarium.”
Holtz is a public health specialist, an assistant professor at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, and an internationally recognized expert in global health.
It is cruel, and it is made only crueler by an American trade embargo that has limited the sale of AIDS and HIV related drugs and treatments directly to Cuba.
On the flip side of the Castro coin is the image of political prisoners and others who disagreed with Castro and were incarcerated or killed for their views.
Thousands of people have been locked up, tortured and killed by Castro’s regime, which America – as a country of political freedom – can neither subsidize nor support.
But whether or not Castro was a villain must be left up to the individual to choose.
Obviously Guillen chose to admire the man’s longevity, and his ability to survive. Should he be suspended for five games for doing so?
The Marlins seem to think so. And, as is its right as the organization which employs the loud-mouthed manager, they’ve issued a suspension.
I disagree with their decision.
You see, Guillen made similar comments about Castro four years ago in a Men’s Health magazine article.
According to Rick Telander, the author of the Men’s Health article, Guillen said, “He’s a bull---- dictator and everybody’s against him, and he still survives, has power. Still has a country behind him.
“Everywhere he goes, they roll out the red carpet. I don’t admire his philosophy; I admire him.’’
When the article was released in September of 2008 there was no blowup. There was hardly any reaction – because Guillen was managing the Chicago White Sox, and nobody cared what Guillen said.
He has long been known for his lack of intolerance and vocal brashness and the Marlins hired him anyway.
Many in Miami are clamoring for his firing, and Guillen spent over an hour on Friday morning apologizing for his words.
If he fails to lead Florida to a winning season, he may just find his head rolling in the chopping-block basket but for now, his five-game suspension will have to serve as good enough.