11 April 2012

Baseball and that freedom of speech thing

Sports is a tribal business, and Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen has upset his tribe. The outspoken Venezuelan had the audacity to express admiration for Fidel Castro in Time magazine. “I respect Fidel Castro,” he is reported to have said. “You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that motherfucker is still here.” The team and a number of the fans objected to his comments and the now contrite Guillen will apologize for his reckless exercise of freedom of speech. In the meantime, he has been suspended for five games.

In its statement, the Marlins declared there was nothing to respect about Fidel Castro. That of course isn't entirely true. Castro liberated Cuba from the criminal dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista and his Mafia partners who had plundered the country for years. And Cuba has built easily the best health and education systems in Latin America, better in some respects than those in the United States, no small accomplishment for a country heavily embargoed.

Nonetheless, the country remains a dictatorship and expressing  respect for Fidel is probably not the most prudent move in Miami-Dade County, the Marlins' home base, a jurisdiction 34 per cent Cuban-American. And yet, Guillen was right—despite the best efforts of the CIA to kill the old motherfucker, he's still there. That does deserve a little respect. As does freedom of speech.

1 comment:

  1. Guillen could easily get the last laugh on this, if the Cuban regime shows their gratitude by sending him a few of their best ballplayers.