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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The complicated legacy of Fidel Castro is making its mark on the sports world.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was back in the headlines this week for wearing a t-shirt that featured a photo of Castro.
He also defended Castro’s Cuba in an argument with a longtime Miami Herald reporter.
Kaepernick and the 49ers were in Miami on Sunday for a battle with the Dolphins.
Earlier this year, Kaepernick made headlines by kneeling during the national anthem before a 49ers game.
He said he was protesting racial injustice in the United States. But when he appeared in a press conference wearing a shirt with the image of Castro, his movement was called into question.
Miami Herald journalist Armando Salguero, who has covered the Dolphins for the newspaper for the past three decades, challenged Kaepernick during a conference call on Wednesday on the reasoning behind wearing the t-shirt.
“I’m not talking about Fidel Castro and his oppression, I’m talking about Malcolm X and what he’s done for people,” Kaepernick said.
“I realize you’re not talking about it because it’s uncomfortable,” responded Salguero.
Kaepernick then interrupted Salguero with a positive mention of Castro.
“One thing that Fidel Castro did do is they [Cuba] have the highest literacy rate because they invest more in their education system than in our prison system which we do not do here [in the United States],” Kaepernick said.
Salguero, a Cuban-American, and Kaepernick continued to engage in a heated exchange, with Salguero questioning the 49ers quarterback and his overall argument.
“[Castro] broke up families, he took over a country without any justice and without any elections,” Salguero said.
“We do break up families here [in the United States], that’s what mass incarceration is,” Kaepernick responded. “That was the foundation of slavery so our country has been based on that, as well as the genocide of Native Americans.”
“Are you equating the breaking up of Cuban families with people going to jail in the United States of America?” Salguero charged back.
“I’m equating the breaking up of families with breaking up of families,” was Kaepernick’s answer.
In his column on Friday in the Miami Herald Salguero called Kaepernick a hypocrite and a fraud for both the t-shirt and his argument.
As for Sunday’s game at Hard Rock Stadium, there is no telling what kind of reception Kaepernick will get from the fans of South Florida.