OTHER OPINIONS: Give Guillen’s salary to human rights groups

By Miami Herald

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. Their reaction is no different than the societal ire that shock jock Don Imus caused when he called the Rutgers women’s basketball team a racist, sexist epithet. Or the reaction that conservative radio’s Rush Limbaugh got after his recent disparaging diatribe against a Georgetown student he called a prostitute for testifying before Congress for contraception coverage in insurance.

Mr. Guillen, who has lived in Miami for 12 years, also has praised Hugo Chávez (he later criticized the strongman who calls Fidel a father figure). During an interview with Spanish-language media on Tuesday, Mr. Guillen denounced the hardliners in Venezuela, Nicaragua and elsewhere. “I’m not doing this to play politics.”

We hope not. Just recognizing the facts would suffice.

The Marlins, for their part, did right by suspending their manager for five games. They say his salary for those five games will go to charity. Good.

We suggest giving it to human-rights groups that do humanitarian work in Cuba. Better yet, send the money to the Ladies in White, the Cuban women who have been peacefully protesting the regime’s incarceration of their husbands, brothers and sons for political “crimes.”

Time for Ozzie to put his money to good use and be accountable.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/04/10/2741425/ozzies-big-mouth.html#storylink=cpy