CINCINNATI (CBSMiami) – Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, known for occasionally letting his mouth get him into trouble, may have put his foot into it big time with comments he made to a national magazine expressing love for Fidel Castro. Saturday, he apologized and the Marlins issued a statement denouncing the dictator.
Guillen, who is Venezuelan, told Time magazine that he loves Castro and respects him for staying in power so long. When Guillen read his comments Friday, he said he felt sick because he knew how people would react.
Guillen called the team’s beat writers for a closed-door meeting before a game against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night and apologized.
“I will apologize if I hurt somebody’s feelings, or I hurt somebody’s thought,” Guillen told the writers. “I want them to know I’m against everything 100 percent — I repeat it again — the way this man (been) treating people for the last 60 years.”
In response to the magazine story, the Marlins, whose new ballpark is in Little Havana, home to many Cuban exiles, released a statement saying, “There is nothing to respect about Fidel Castro.
“He is 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.”
It’s not the first time Guillen has made a strong comment about a controversial leader. During his first news conference as Marlins manager in September, he bristled at a suggestion he supports Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
“Don’t tell my wife that, because she hates that man. She hates him to death,” Guillen said. “I supported Chavez? If I was supporting Chavez, do you think I would be manager of the Marlins? I never supported Chavez.”
Guillen became a U.S. citizen in 2006, and he has been more critical of Chavez in recent years.