Apr 10, 2012
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

Miami’s Sacrificial Lamb

Democracy & Society doesn’t usually cover baseball–because baseball doesn’t usually include discussions of democracy. But today the Miami Marlins suspended their manager, Ozzie Guillen, over comments he made regarding Cuban leader Fidel Castro. In a Time.com interview that was made public last week, Guillen, a Venezuelan, said that he loves and respects Castro. In true Ozzie fashion, his comments weren’t veiled, either. “I love Fidel Castro,” he said. Pretty straightforward. But the weekend saw increasing calls for his resignation and suspension from the Marlins’ Florida base. A five-game suspension was announced this morning.

Many are pointing to the league’s precedent for such a suspension–and for his potential firing. In 1996, former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott was banned from ownership for two years after she made some particularly glowing comments about Adolf Hitler. She also had a history of making derogatory statements about African-Americans and admitted to keeping swastikas as decor in her house.

Fidel Castro may be bad, but he isn’t horrible. He is certainly an enemy of democratic rule, yes. And opponents of Castro, especially Cuban-Americans and Cuban immigrants, have every right to refuse to accept normalized relations. But to equate him to Hitler is no doubt blowing things out of proportion. And like we’ve seen with the GOP’s courtship of Cuban-American voters, kowtowing to the most hardline of the base can be dangerous.

If you want to win the Cuban-American voting block in Florida, the contemporary practice goes, you need to promote hardline anti-Castro positions. And that’s something the Republicans this year (and for the last fifteen-plus) have had no problem doing. Remember Newt Gingrich wishing Castro to Hell during a GOP debate this year? Sure you do. It was gross, and it probably made your skin crawl out of embarrassment.

The Miami Marlins, in attempting to firmly root themselves in their new home of Little Havana in Miami proper, have co-opted this same strategy of throwing out red meat to the base. Nobody ever said professional sports were democratic, but it certainly is interesting to watch the ludicrous, trigger-happy politics of South Florida entangle yet another actor.


1 Comment

  • I agree with your conclusions, Geneve. This is pretty disgusting. So now professional athletes need to keep their political thoughts to themselves? Will people working for any corporation need to do this? It’s a good way to gut the first amendment.

Leave a comment

Founded in 2004, Democracy and Society is a biannual print journal published by the Center for Democracy and Civil Society at Georgetown University. The D&S Blog provides web-only content, including special reports and investigative series, on issues relating to democracy and development.

Email Subscription to D&S and Blog

* indicates required

Posts by Region

Posts by Topic

Switch to our mobile site