Cuban Exiles, Politicians Call More Severe Punishment Of Guillen
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Cuban exile group Vigilia Mambisa spent the morning protesting outside the new Marlins Park in Little Havana over the controversial comments about Fidel Castro made by manager Ozzie Guillen.
The comments created such an outcry, Marlins management suspended Guillen for five games on Tuesday.
“When you say ‘love someone’ that is responsible for the death of so many people, something is wrong with you,” said protester Jay Fernandez.
Fernandez spent Tuesday morning sending his message with a poster on his back that read “No Apologies, Fire Him Now,” because Ozzie’s words hit him hard.
“You have relatives that are close to you and have someone like this, a so-called leader saying those things and it hurts. It brings back memories that I thought were gone and now they’ve come back,” said Fernandez.
As the Marlins organization announced the five game suspension of Guillen, protesters and city leaders watched on a big screen outside the stadium. Most people who saw the announcement said the punishment is not enough.
“I am from Cuba and many of my family died because Castro ordered killing them and I had to leave Cuba they planned to put me in jail,” said Blanca Garcia.
“This community has suffered so much and you can’t come in and say such stupid things,” said Irma Garcia Diana. “Why do you think I left? I had to leave because they were going to kill my brother-in-law so we had to leave Cuba and come here, leaving everything behind. It’s not easy and then this man says he loves Castro, why doesn’t he go and live there. He’s making millions while people are dying and suffering.”
Fernandez wants Guillen gone for good.
“You embarrass the situation and the community and you go to go. His apologies are crocodile tears,” said Fernandez.
The protest started outside the Versailles Restaurant.
“I feel very offended. Mr. Guillen has offended us Cubans as a whole,” said David Rivero. “We support everything the Marlins do but we are not going to support them if they don’t release him.”
“We don’t want apologies here. We know who he is. We want him out of here,” said Luis Barrios.
Demonstrators, who made their way to Marlins Park in a caravan, said they plan to boycott the Marlins until Guillen is terminated.
“My family won’t go. My children won’t go. My grandchildren won’t go,” said Diana.
“My sincere hope is that they re-analyze that after seeing the demonstration, the raw emotion being shown here today and do something a little more dramatic than that,” said City of Miami commissioner Francis Suarez.
In the article published by Time magazine’s Internet edition, Guillen is quoted as saying, “I love Fidel Castro.”
Guillen also stated: “I respect Fidel Castro,” Time reported. “You know why? Many people have tried to kill Fidel Castro in the last 60 years, yet that [SOB] is still there.”
Guillen publicly apologized for those statements.
“Be assured that I’m against [the way] that [Fidel Castro] thinks, the way he treats [the Cuban] people and how he has treated their country for a long time,” Guillen stated following the published comments. “I’m against it 100 percent. I’m not crazy or stupid or ignorant to say that I love anybody. Not only has he hurt the Cuban people, but many others, including Venezuela. To those who were hurt or misunderstood or [took] it the way they want to take it, to those people I will apologize. I will apologize if I’ve hurt someone’s feelings. I am 100 percent against the way this man has treated people for the past 60 years.”
Despite the apology, the firestorm grew and many who were deeply offended by his remarks felt his apology wasn’t enough.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez urged the team “to take decisive steps” to end the controversy sparked in the community.
Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Joe Martinez also called for Guillen’s resignation.
“You’ve got to understand the hurt and the longevity of what we’ve suffered as a community, leaving our loved ones suffering at the hands of a tyrant like Fidel Castro,” said former state representative Gustavo Barreiro. “For this man to say he loves and respects Fidel Castro is totally unacceptable.”
Barreiro agreed that the Marlins punishment of Guillen should have been more severe.
“I don’t think it’s enough. I think you can hear from the Hispanic community it’s not enough. I don’t think short of a removal from the Marlins will satisfy this community at this point,” said Barreiro.
One of the outspoken protestors outside Marlins Park was Irma Garcia Diana, who came to the U.S. from Cuba in 1960 and whose husband, Francisco Garcia Martinez, had been jailed in Cuba for nine years at the age of 14 as a political prisoner.
Garcia Diana told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that the five-game suspension of Guillen was “not enough.”
She said. “This community has suffered so much. You can’t come in and say such stupid things. If they say something bad about your mother, how would you feel? Cuba is our motherland.”
“My family won’t go to games until he is fired,” she said. “I won’t go. My children won’t go. My grandchildren won’t go.”
With emotion, Garcia Diana said, “Why do you think I left Cuba? I had to leave because they were going to kill my brother-in-law, so we had to leave Cuba and come here, leaving everything behind. It’s not easy and then this man says he loves Cuba. Why doesn’t he go and live there. He’s making millions here while people are dying and suffering.”
In 2005, after his team, the Chicago White Sox, won the World Series, Guillen stood on the field with his family, holding a Venezuelan flag and yelled: “ Viva Venezuela!” then chanted “ Viva Chavez!”
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is a close friend of Fidel Castro. A YouTube video of the moment is now making the rounds.