I lived in Miami for 10 years. One thing I learned: never say anything nice about Fidel Castro, which is understandable and justified.
If you were running for dog catcher, a last minute campaign smear might consist of someone leaking a photo of your cousin having lunch with someone who was rumored to have liked Castro. Seriously. It was comic.
So when I heard that the Florida (Miami) Marlins manager praised the dictator, I knew what was next.
“I loveÂ Fidel Castro,” Guillen told Time magazine. After a beat, he went on to explain: “A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that [expletive] is still here.”
It’s understandable why a Major League manager would admire the longevity of a figure like Castro, given the rapidity with which teams pull the plug on managers. But expressing love for the Cuban dictator when you’re running a team in South Florida is akin to â€¦ well â€¦ we’re having a tough time coming up with a local equivalent. It would be like the manager of the Dodgers asserting that organic produce is bad for you, or that hybrid cars are ugly, or that film subsidies are a bad deal for taxpayers. Actually, none of that rises to the same level; to Florida’s Cuban-immigrant community, praising Castro is little different from praisingÂ Adolf Hitler â€” even if you’re only expressing admiration for his survival skills, not his politics.
Guillen has apologized for his comment, “with my heart in my hand and on bended knees.” That didn’t stop the team from suspending him for five games, even as protesters and a county commissioner call for his resignation. This strikes many non-Floridians, including us, as a gross overreaction, maybe even an assault on American values: Why should he be punished for expressing a minority-held political view?