One of the reasons why Ozzie Guillen was hired for this team was for his candid personality and his ability to speak his mind. Good or bad, you know what you are getting with Ozzie Guillen. He doesn’t pull punches, he doesn’t hide his thoughts, he doesn’t mince words. He is the antithesis to anything the Marlins have had on their bench in all of their franchise’s history.
Yes, what he said was a mistake, but probably taken a bit more out of context than anything. Besides, if Cuban Americans are so up in arms over Castro, what better situation could they have asked for than a prominent Hispanic figure shining a light on an issue that is important to them?
Sure, Ozzie has gotten himself into hot water. And yes it is probably a very strong miscalculation on his part to praise Castro, in any shape or form, while going to work 81 days of the year in Hialeah, Miami, the epicenter of all things Cuban. It is the nerve center for the consciousness of Cuba and its relations to America. But that is just Ozzie being Ozzie, isn’t it? Isn’t that what we all should expect?
Yet consider if Guillen toed the standard party line, and was not supportive of Castro’s regime. That wouldn’t be news. Probably would be cut from his interview. Instead, because he gave Castro a light endorsement, saying he admired the dictator for staying in power for so long. Guillen stressed there was a bit of a misunderstanding, as it seems likely that he wouldn’t be supportive of his crimes against humanity but instead be more likely to admire the ability to have such a dominance over Cuba for so long. Cuban Americans should take note – it is impressive, although for the wrong reasons. It is a testament to how backwards things in Cuba are.
Now, consider how much this story is being discussed. It has reached a national level not only giving prominent exposure to Guillen and the Marlins, but also to the very issue of the political situation in Cuba. What is America’s foreign policy stance towards Cuba? Is it helpful? What exactly is going on in Cuba? In light of the recent world developments of the Arab Spring, Kony 2012 debacle, and the economic problems of Europe (and Greece), there is a need to create awareness on such issues.
They say there is no such thing as bad PR, and well, whoever said that are right. Guillen was brought into Miami to help usher in a new era of baseball. The people of Miami are talking about baseball, but also are talking about their new manager as if he has an obligation to support their wishes politically as well. To people outside of Miami, this may not be anything more than Ozzie being Ozzie, but then again to those same people they might not understand the diversity of Hispanics living here in the United States. Ozzie Guillen’s comments illustrate this to the rest of the country while also bringing into sharp contrast the diversity of Hispanic America. They may share the same language, but by no means do they share the ideas politically. Hispanics are very diverse, unique, and have a lot to offer the fabric of the American quilt.
There are those calling for Ozzie to be fired and there are those, Cuban Americans actually, who are supportive of Ozzie the player. They know his personality and understand the spirit of his comments even if they don’t agree with a positive depiction of Castro. Ozzie has apologized for his comments and is legitimately sorry for what he said. He may not have realized that his new community would react so strongly to something that may have passed under the radar back in Chicago. There, a strong Mexican population predominates whereas here in Miami, a stronger Carribean and South American population exists – namely the Cuban community which is based where he is now.
Ultimately, Ozzie will rectify this situation by focusing on managing games and winning games. He will probably develop a little more of a buffer when it comes to politics and his comments in the media. That said, we should all emphasize and protect the right to free speech because that is a fundamental right that we as Americans share. We may not agree with you, but we support your right to say it. We may not agree with Ozzie Guillen’s comments, but he has every right to say what he thinks. We also have the right to use his comments as a springboard to a greater discussion about Cuba’s political system and their effects on our fellow countrymen who live here and their relatives who are still back in Cuba. What Ozzie did was create awareness about the plight of Cuba and in shining a light on it, forces us to face this topic and have a conversation about it.
In the end, Cuban Americans should be excited about this opportunity and should also utilize this situation to try and bring some attention to it. The Marlins, if they play this right, can also put themselves in the heart of the conversation and take on a greater role within the community – not just being a baseball team based in Hialeah, but also being a public venue for their community while also illustrating its passion and its heart.