US Baseball Manager Suspended Over Pro-Castro Comments

Posted April 10th, 2012 at 3:40 pm (UTC-5)
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The manager of a professional Major League Baseball team based in Florida, home to a large population of Cuban exiles, has been suspended for five games without pay because of remarks he made in support of former Cuban president Fidel Castro.

Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen made a public statement of apology Tuesday, shortly after his suspension was announced.

The Venezuelan-born Guillen, a former All-Star player and a naturalized U.S. citizen, recently told Time magazine that he loves Mr. Castro and respects him for staying in power for six decades.

The remarks sparked anger among members of Miami's large Cuban exile community, many of whom have family members still living in the communist island nation just 170 kilometers southwest of the Florida coast.

The Marlins team as a whole released a statement saying the players do not support Guillen's comments. The statement said “The pain and suffering caused by Fidel Castro cannot be minimized, especially in a community filled with victims of the dictatorship.”

On Tuesday, Guillen said at a news conference that his remarks, made in Spanish, did not come out the way he had wanted, once they were translated into English. He said that he is “100 percent” against the way Mr. Castro treats the country and its people.

He added this was “the biggest mistake” of his life.

The 48-year-old Guillen also said he will do whatever he can to repair relations with Cuban-Americans angered by his remarks.

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said he supported the Marlins' decision to suspend Guillen. He called Guillen's remarks in the magazine “offensive to an important part of the Miami community and others throughout the world.”

About 100 demonstrators gathered outside the entrance to Miami's new baseball park chanted that they wanted to see Guillen fired. But the team said it has not considered that, nor has it asked him to resign.