My take on Ozzie Guillen's "Castro" comment.

My take on Ozzie Guillen's "Castro" comment.

Disclaimer: I hate when I have to mix sports with politics. I hate it with a passion! But unfortunately it is unavoidable on this subject.

I know that pretty much every sports writer/blogger in the country has already touched on this issue. But as a Latino I feel I should give my thoughts on this issue. First off, I know that Cuban dictator Fidel Castro is an evil man. And it disturbs me that he is best friends with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. But at the same time this is America.

And the United States Constitution gives us the right to free speech and free press. Ozzie Guillen should not be punished for what he said. If we can use the press to disrespect The President Of The United States without consequence, then I don't see why mentioning a foreign leader is any different. Yes Ozzie said he "loved" Fidel Castro, but it's not like he's a member of the Cuban government.

Plus I don't think Ozzie meant what he said literally. On the other hand, as a Latino I can understand why Cubans were offended with what Guillen said. The majority of the Cuban population in the United States immigrated to this country because of Castro's communist government and it's policies. When Castro took power human rights weren't exactly on his list of priorities. Most Cubans living here in the United States reside in the Miami-Dade area.

After all it took divine intervention by Pope Benedict XVI a few weeks ago to convince the Cuban government to make Good Friday a national holiday in that country. And because of Castro's policies, Cuba is isolated from most parts of the world and as a result it's economy has suffered for decades. And as a result the United States gives Cuban immigrants asylum providing they can reach U.S. soil without being caught in the water by federal authorities.

Just ask White Sox Shortstop Alexei Ramirez about the asylum process. Ramirez fled Cuba so he can join the White Sox back in 2008. Because of the fact that he had no legal residence here in the U.S., he was unable to accompany the White Sox when they played in Toronto that year. The White Sox were told that if Alexei Ramirez did accompany the team, he would be immediately detained and deported back to Cuba once he got off the plane.

Ramirez now has citizenship in the Dominican Republic. He lives there in the off season and now plays for the White Sox on a work Visa. Ozzie Guillen did the right thing by apologizing to the Cuban community. And considering the fact that apologies are not a part of Guillen's way of life, I say that the apology should be taken at face value.

I saw the press conference and he seemed sincere to me. I do not blame the Cuban people for being upset, and I can understand if they choose not to forgive him. Ever since his comments about Castro came to light the Cuban Marlins fans have been calling for Guillen's dismissal. There are also some American fans who are upset for patriotic reasons. But again, some of these american fans also express hate towards our own president.

Ozzie is not the first person to make comments like this and he for damn sure will not be the last. Another question we have to ask ourselves is "If Guillen wasn't a famous baseball coach and was just an everyday person, would he get the same backlash for making those comments?" We must also take into account the possibility that Ozzie is being held to a different standard because he is famous and a millionaire.

We are all human regardless of financial, social, or economic status. Are we going to call for the head of every person who says something positive about a hated foreign leader? If so, what does that say about us as people? I stand united with my Cuban brothers and sisters in the hope that Cuba will be free one day. Latinos have dealt with oppression for centuries and sadly some Latin American countries {such as Cuba} still deal with oppression to this day.

But at the same time, I feel that Ozzie should not be suspended or fired for exercising his right to free speech. His current 5 game suspension is purely politically motivated and that is wrong. If we can hate, attack, and punish someone for speaking their mind to the press then we are no better than any communist nation which forbids those rights.

You can follow me on Twitter: @GabeSalgado82 Hashtag: #TheLockerRoom

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    Gabe Salgado

    Aside my columns for The Locker Room, I also write for many other outlets, and you can hear me on the radio. I co-host "The Sports Cypher" on WVON-AM every Sunday night from 9pm-11pm. You can also hear me every week on sportstownchicago.com. Follow me on Twitter @GabeSalgado82

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