By addressing reporters –– and Cuban protestors –– in an hour-long news conference Tuesday, the Marlins manager took a small step in easing the pain over his polarizing comments concerning Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
Earlier this week, Guillen told Time Magazine that he loved Castro for his staying power. The comments ignited a downpour of criticism considering Castro's heinous background.
Based on his explanation, Guillen was likely trying to crack a joke about Castro and couldn't deliver it as accurately as possible in his second language.
Still, considering the sensitivity of this issue in Miami, this won't be a quick fix for Guillen. During –– or after the season –– the skipper should look to immerse himself in the community and educate himself on Cuba's history with Castro.
Here's some perspective: In the Boston market, Red Sox prospects Jose Iglesias and Juan Carlos Linares are the poster children for Castro's egregious era. Both risked their lives to escape Cuba and pursue a better life in the United States.
Linares was forced to sail on a small boat through alligator-infested waters to make the trek. Iglesias requested and received political asylum after bolting a Cuban team hotel in the middle of the night.
Those escapes were a result of Castro's abuse of power. For decades, the Cuban dictator lied and murdered anyone opposed to his administration as he established his regime on the island.
Now, imagine a community of refugees –– that's Little Havana in Miami, also the location of the new Marlins ballpark. No one can blame the community for asking Marlins ownership to fire Guillen.
During Tuesday's news conference, Guillen attributed his comments to a mishap in speaking English –– English is the Venezuelan native's second language. As the question was presented, Guillen said he thought in Spanish and answered in English.
That's understandable. Known for his sarcastic remarks, Guillen still admitted to uttering "I love Fidel Castro" one way or the other, even if the Time Magazine reporter didn't present the context of the conversation properly. It's still a mistake.
Honestly, I don't believe Guillen loves Castro. His words seemed like a slip of the tongue. Guillen, born in Ocumare del Tuy in Venezuela, has witnessed Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez's dictatorial tendencies in his home country.
Since grasping power, Chavez has described Castro as a mentor. So Guillen isn't gutless and heartless, as he knows the ramifications of Chavez's administration on his friends and family members in Venezuela.
It'll take some personal interaction with the Cuban community in Little Havana to repair the relationship. And while Tuesday was the first step in stopping the bleeding, there's still a ways to go.
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