Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ozzie Guillen and His Comment on Castro

Ozzie Guillen, the manager of the Miami Marlins, was suspended for five games in response to his comment about former Cuban leader, Fidel Castro. As Guillen stated in an interview with Time: "I love Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years but that [expletive] is still here."

"The pain and suffering caused by Fidel Castro", the Marlins stated, "cannot be minimized especially in a community filled with victims of the dictatorship." Cuban-American baseball announcer, Amaury Pi-Gonzalez, offered the following explanation for why members of Miami's Cuban community were so outraged by Guillen's remarks: "It's like going to New York's Jewish district and saying, 'Hitler wasn't so bad.'"

Although Guillen repeatedly apologized for his remarks, calling them the "biggest mistake so far in his life", he caused such an outrage that many within Miami's Cuban exile community have called for nothing less than his termination.

Hypocritical Backlash?

Would Guillen have elicited a similarly hostile response if he were to praise Fulgencio Batista, whose regime was overthrown by Castro and his fellow revolutionaries? I doubt it. And yet the Batista regime caused quite a bit of "pain and suffering" of its own. Criticizing past U.S. policy towards Cuba, John F. Kennedy noted that:

Batista murdered 20,000 Cubans in seven years - a greater proportion of the Cuban population than the proportion of Americans who died in both World Wars, and he turned Democratic Cuba into a complete police state – destroying every individual liberty. Yet our aid to his regime, and the ineptness of our policies, enabled Batista to invoke the name of the United States in support of his reign of terror. Administration spokesmen publicly praised Batista – hailed him as a staunch ally and a good friend – at a time when Batista was murdering thousands, destroying the last vestiges of freedom, and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the Cuban people, and we failed to press for free elections.

My sincere hope is that the Marlins and most members of the Cuban exile community are consistent, opposing any and all forms of dictatorship. But I can't help but feel that what many are effectively denouncing isn't dictatorship per se, but dictatorship of a particular (left-wing) sort. And to the extent that my hunch is correct, it's difficult to take their indignation at Guillen's remarks seriously.