Ozzie Guillen has never been known for speaking pearls of wisdom — or having an ounce of sensitivity. The new Miami Marlins manager has over the years — with his words — upset gays, his fellow Venezuelans and now Cuban Americans.
On Tuesday, the Marlins management announced Mr. Guillen had been suspended for five games, starting now, after he told a Time magazine online reporter that he loves and respects Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. He says his words were misunderstood because he was thinking in Spanish while speaking in English, that his point was that Castro had lasted more than half a century despite the “bad things” he did.
Mr. Guillen has said that he likes to get drunk after games, win or lose. Perhaps he was drunk when he brought up his love for a dictator. He surely couldn’t have been sober.
Whatever his rationale, Mr. Guillen now seems to understand the hurt he caused not only Cuban Americans but also Venezuelans, Nicaraguans and others living in South Florida who were forced to leave their countries in the past decades because their leaders cozied up to Fidelismo and started to model those governments after Cuba’s one-party state.
No one should confuse the exile community’s distress and anger or the Marlins’ management’s suspension of Mr. Guillen with censorship. In this country every individual is free to say what he or she believes — and that includes those hurt by his comments. After all, hurtful comments — be they political or racist or sexist or homophobic — carry consequences.
After 52 years of dictatorship, for Cuban Americans whose families or friends lost their property, even their lives, under the regime, praising Mr. Castro is akin to praising Adolf Hitler.