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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen will fly back to Miami Tuesday to apologize for a second time regarding his controversial comments about Fidel Castro.
Guillen will fly to Miami after Monday’s game and explain his comments about Fidel Castro on Tuesday at Marlins Park. He invited anyone to attend who wants to ask a question or hear what he has to say at 10:30 a.m.
But before he can even talk to South Floridians, Miami-Dade County Chairman Joe Martinez has written a letter to Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria asking for Guillen to be fired.
“In light of his comments regarding Fidel Castro, I ask for the resignation of the Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen. I ask for the support of all those who have suffered cruelty and violation of human rights anywhere in the world. Mr Guillen should be ashamed of feeling respect for Fidel Castro or any dictator that oppresses the citizens of a counrty,” Martinez wrote.
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.
In his first apology, Guillen said, “I will apologize if I hurt somebody’s feelings, or I hurt somebody’s thought,” Guillen told sports writers on Saturday. “I want them to know I’m against everything 100 percent — I repeat it again — the way this man (has been) treating people for the last 60 years.”
Both the comment and the apology are not sitting well with some in Miami’s Cuban-American community.
“It’s always offensive, anybody that can say that they adore and admire Castro, because my family left Cuba because of Castro,” said Gustavo Gross of Miami. Gross said he feels Guillen needs to get in touch with the pulse of Miami’s baseball community.
“I think Ozzie really needs to dig deep and really educate himself and really re-evaluate and get back in touch with the community because if he’s going to be representing us as a Marlin manager, he really needs to know where he’s coming from.”
Others believe the baseball manager’s statement about Castro is simply his right.
“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. There’s freedom of speech everywhere within this country so he can say whatever he likes,” said Miami resident Gail Thompson.
In response to the magazine story, the Marlins, whose new ballpark is in Little Havana, home to many Cuban exiles, released a statement saying, “We are aware of the article. 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.”
However, he was heard chanting his support for Chavez after winning the world series title while with the Chicago White Sox in 2005.
Guillen became a U.S. citizen in 2006, and he has been more critical of Chavez in recent years.
“Everybody makes mistakes. We have to give him a chance and see what happens,” said George Coba of Miami.
A group of Cuban-Americans is planning to caravan from Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana to Marlins Park on Tuesday to demand that Guillen step down.