On Ozzie Guillen, Fidel Castro, and Baseball in Cuba

Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His books include "The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism" and "Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century."


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“I love Fidel Castro,” said Florida Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen to Time magazine. “A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that [expletive] is still here.” Guillen “respects” the Cuban despot.

Guillen has since apologized profusely for his comments, which infuriated Florida’s Cuban émigré community—and for good reason.

Fidel Castro is a tyrant. I could go through a litany of the man’s crimes against humanity since he turned a beautiful country into a communist dictatorship over 50 years ago. Castro violated every form of basic human rights, from freedom of speech to press to assembly to religion. He jailed dissidents and never stood for election—a promise he made in 1959. Liberals might take note of Castro’s locking up of homosexuals on the island. And then there was that whole Cuban Missile Crisis thing, where Fidel and his pal Che Guevara—a hero at American universities—actually wanted to launch the nuclear missiles at the United States and unleash nuclear Armageddon. And don’t forget about the 15,000-20,000 Cubans that Castro has executed, or the tens of thousands who have drowned trying to swim 100 miles to the shores of Florida.

Safely ensconced on those shores is Mr. Ozzie Guillen, who became rich playing baseball under America’s free-enterprise system. Guillen currently basks in a four-year contract for $10-million managing the Marlins. He would never be able to make that kind of money in Cuba. In fact, to consider just how bad Cuba is under Castro, let’s stick to baseball:

Fidel’s favorite sport is baseball. He turned it into a national past-time in Cuba. Unfortunately, Cuban players are not permitted to score some badly needed dollars, or personal freedom. I recall a telling incident in the spring of 1999. The Cuban national team came to America; specifically, to Oriole Park at Camden Yards, where they played the Baltimore Orioles. They blew out the Orioles 12 to 6, giving Castro something to crow about. He framed the win as a victory for communism over capitalism.

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  • Chezwick

    Guillen's comments were asinine to be sure, but we on the right should not be hypocritical here. We've been warning for years about the constriction of political speech in America. Should Ozzie lose his job for the mere offering of a political opinion – no matter how absurd, this is not something that should be celebrated.

  • Amused

    While Guillen certainly scores a BIG ZERO in the common sense department , he is an American , and does have a right to free speech . Cuban-Americans should remember where they are ….NOT in Cuba where critical remarks will get you thrown in jail . No Guillen should NOT loose his job , nor is a five game suspension fair ..A public apology to those offended is ENOUGH . They got their apology , Guillen learned his lesson, was duly "punished " …now move on .

  • ajnn

    if ozzied guillen loses his job it will not be for the content of his speech it will be for alienating his company's customers in south florida.

    suppose he were working in business and lost, through his personal behavior or sp;eech, 20% of his company's customers. he would be fired at the 1st opportunity.

    why is this different ?

  • flyingtiger

    Free speech means that you will not get thrown in jail for what you say. It does not mean that you are entitled to a job. Your employer can fire you for what you say in public, if what you say can damage the image of your business. As a Chicagoan I had to endure years of Guillen's garbage. We laughed when Flordia signed him. They did not realize he is one of the lousiest managers in MLB. He is a media creation. He hates the USA and the sooner he goes back the better.

    • Amused

      I agree there flyingtiger .Bottom line , baseball is a buisiness , and filling the stadium pays the salaries and the bills . From THAT perspective Guileen may have already sealed his fate . The Cubans down here in FLA , are not good at forgiving , nor do they forget .

  • jackdurish

    The first irony is that Ozzie exercised a right that Castro would be the first to deny him, when he proclaimed his admiration of the tyrant. The second irony is that Castro himself violates the most basic right of free speech and then proclaims himself an admirer of Jose Marti who proclaimed that freedom of speech was essential to every man.

  • Ghostwriter

    What did Ozzie Guillen for his idiotic outburst? In this country,he got a five game suspension. If he said something the Castro regime DIDN'T like,he'd in prison or worse.

  • wctaqiyya

    If we just liberate Cuba, we wouldn't need to wonder if Ozzie would be sad, he would tell us. Liberate Cuba.