Free speech and Fidel Castro in Florida

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The First Amendment protects your right to say just about anything, but doesn't insulate you from the consequences. And there's a difference between the right to free speech and the responsibility to be held accountable for saying something truly offensive.

So it's no surprise that the manager of the Florida Miami Marlins, a team with a spankin' new publicly financed ballpark in Little Havana, would get himself in deep doo-doo by saying that Fidel Castro maybe wasn't such a horrible guy after all. As Dave Zirin, my favorite sportswriter, notes:

Short of a hurricane or an armed taxpayer revolt, this had to have been Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria’s worst nightmare. ... Casual kind words for Castro in Miami is akin to looking at a leaky bottle of kerosene and thinking it could use a match.

I get it -- Ozzie Guillen offended a sizable portion of the community in which he does business, and he's supposed to be a community leader and bring Cuban Americans into the ballpark, and whether he misspoke or was having trouble expressing a complex political thought in English, he can't really get out of this one without taking some hits.

Still, the AP story that ran in the Chron was a bit over the top:

The suspension recalled the punishment given to Marge Schott, the late owner of the Cincinnati Reds. Schott so embarrassed baseball in the 1990s with inflammatory racial remarks and fond recollections of Adolf Hitler that she was suspended from ownership duties for a season.

Wha-what? I'm not trying to defend ol' Commie Fidel here, and I know he was a dictator who has political prisoners and didn't tolerate dissent, but seriously? We're comparing an offhand comment about Castro to support for Adolf Hitler?

As far as I know, Castro was never guilty of mass genocide. He didn't systematically murder 6 million people. He didn't invade Europe and attempt to take over the world. Hell, he couldn't even "export the revolution" very far off his tiny island.

You don't have to support every policy of the Cuban government to acknowledge that Castro took an impoverished nation controlled by a savage U.S. puppet and turned it into a functioning country where everyone gets enough to eat and has free education and medical care -- and has done it up against a total boycott and for many years a secret war waged by the most powerful nation on Earth.

Hitler he ain't.

In fact, I think that (possibly outside of Miami) it's possible for sensitive, politically correct Americans to discuss Castro with a bit more nuance and subtlety than the ownership of the Marlins is willing to allow. You can respect the guy, as Guillen apparently did, for surviving for 65 years when the U.S. was doing just about everything, including planting an exploding cigar in his stash, to get rid of him. You can say that he was, and is, one of the most important Leftist leaders in the Western Hemisphere, and inspiration to revolutionaries from Nelson Mandela to Hugo Chavez. You can have a reasonable argument about whether he might have become more open to democracy and free speech if the U.S. wasn't constantly trying to overthrow him.

You can say things here -- because this is America -- that you can't say in Cuba. Except you apparently can't say them in Miami.

 

 

Comments

to the Cuban population in So.Florida, Castro was Hitler-esque. Check out what Dan Lebetard, a Cuban sportwriter in Miami had to say on the topic.
Yeah, Castro didn't throw people into gas chambers, but to an elderly Cuban man in Miami whose brother was put up against a wall and shot, the sentiment is very similar to a jewish grandma in Ft. Lauderdale who escaped the Nazis.

this isn't the first time Guillen has put his foot in his mouth. Maybe one day he'll learn to think for a second before he speaks. (but I doubt it). he should be thankful he didn't get fired

Posted by DanO on Apr. 10, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

If it wasn't for Castro, South Africa would have been ruled by the Apartheid regime for much longer... maybe till today.

During the proxy war in Angola, Cuban troops went toe to toe with the South African military, and won. That war broke the back of the regime, and within a few years of that costly and humiliating defeat, Apartheid fell. When Mandela was released, the first foreign country he visited on an official visit, was Cuba. When an American anchor later criticized Mandela for his praise of the Cuban government, Mandela asked him, "Where were you [Americans] when I was in prison?" Mandela was always a class act. He knew full well that America not only didn't help him, but that the CIA actually alerted the regime to his whereabouts so that he could be arrested. He also knew that the US kept the ANC on its terrorist list, while the Cubans helped the ANC overthrow the racist regime. Ever the class act, he held back everything he could've said.

As for the wealthy supporters of the Battista dictatorship who packed their things into designer suitcases and spent the last 50 years whining, they can go to hell.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 10, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

a bit unseemly and really tasteless. Not a defence of Batista, but Castro was hell on the populations in way that Batista could never have been.

http://capitalismmagazine.com/2003/03/fidel-batista-fidel-castro-out-thu...

Too toss a few other things out not in the article, Castro not only rounded up political enemies and killed them, he rounded up decadent western style liberals and killed them when they saw that the revolution wasn't about freedom. He cracked down on decadent artists, gays, and like the Ayatolla he claimed there were no gays in Cuba.

Another case of a person claiming morality while having none.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

I don't really mind, but you may want to look to more neutral sources than some obscure anti-Castro publication called "Capitalism Magazine." Like masturbation, I'm sure it feels good to read stuff you agree with. But if you're trying to convince others, it's pretty weak. If you're lazy, you could at least try Wiki.

Truth is, Batista murdered far more people. Batista did in fact "round up political enemies and kill them," to the tune of about 20,000 Cubans according to the Wiki article about him. By any serious historical account, Castro didn't even come close. Some claim maybe 5,000 over the course of 50 years, though all I've ever been able to find proof of, is that he rounded up some 500 members of Batista's feared secret police and executed them without much due process.

There were never any death squads rounding up people in the night and murdering them in Castro's Cuba, unlike in many US-supported right-wing capitalist regimes. There are no gulags. There are no medical experiments on prisoners of the sort conducted in the United States (to name just one country). In fact, Cuba imprisons far fewer people on a per capita basis period than the United States. That's a fact. And of course Castro doesn't go around overthrowing other countries' governments and murdering innocent civilians. And how do you measure the value of such things as universal health care and support for popular rebellions against oppressive regimes like Apartheid?

I think that your view is quite biased and skewed. Comparing Castro to the Ayatollah? C'mon, be serious. Oh, and as far as gays, Cuba has become a lot more tolerant in the last 50 years (as has the United States, incidentally). As for the whole unseemly question of who murdered more, my guess is that every one of the 11 US presidents who have held power during Castro's time have EACH murdered more people than Fidel, with all of their wars of aggression.

No one is saying that Cuba is exactly a model of democracy and human rights for the world to emulate (though I do believe Nelson Mandela did use those exact words). And yet, if some baseball dude in Cuba were to say that he admires Obama, who by any fair measure has murdered more in 3 years than Castro ever did in 50, would he get suspended from his job like he would in the land of the free?

Somehow, I don't think so.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 10, 2012 @ 7:13 pm

it seems.

No defence of Batista there, Castro was more inventive in his manias, he had more diversity in his persecuting, that must be why you defend him I suppose.

Posted by guest on Apr. 10, 2012 @ 7:54 pm

Insulting me doesn't change the weakness of your argument, the fact that you're getting your information from dubious and biased sources, the fact that your whole argument is based on statements devoid of factual evidence, and the fact that virtually all of what you claim is simply false. In fact, resorting to insults only underscores the fact that you have nothing else to fall back on.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 10, 2012 @ 10:24 pm

You can't even read your own posts.

Greg you are a narrow and doctrinaire leftist that slogans excuse mass murder and a numbers game when it comes to murder is a good measure. To make your point, such as it is you have to read things into my posts that are not there,

Your numbers game is appalling.

Posted by matlock on Apr. 10, 2012 @ 11:56 pm

Why am I not surprised it was you? Matlock, why are you such a hater?

Posted by Greg on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 7:29 am

Batista did not have the US embargo and the CIA trying to kill him. The US supported Batista and are waging undeclared war against Cuba. Castro had to defend himself and the revolution!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2012 @ 3:22 pm

You are arguing back and forth on who murdered more people and who was a worse dictator. Basically they both were not good people and and hardly people anyone should be proud to admire.

Posted by DNative on Apr. 10, 2012 @ 8:53 pm

Mandela is a big admirer of Castro.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 10, 2012 @ 10:26 pm

fairly racialist state, where those with lighter skin have an institutional advantage. I know your defence mechanism and sloven worship of doctrine has just went into over drive, but stay in context here.

Posted by matlock on Apr. 10, 2012 @ 11:58 pm

Mandela is a great man, but that doesn't make him right 100% of the time. The Facts are the facts- Castro tortured and murdered thousands of political oppenents. That should eliminate him for any sort of admiration.

Posted by DNative on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 8:40 am

both vermin.

Some people are less dead under communists.

Posted by matlock on Apr. 10, 2012 @ 11:54 pm

"Some people are less dead under communists. "

How do you arrive at that conclusion? Castro, Mao, the Bolsheviks, the Sandinistas; literally EVERYWHERE Communism has been implemented the result has been a staggering increase in poverty, oppression and mass killings.

Posted by Marxist Hypocrisy 101 on Aug. 17, 2012 @ 11:55 am

did you know which class of people fled Cuba and why? did you think they loved America for her "freedom", or for her Constitution? or perhaps the motives were far more base.

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 7:57 am

It was all classes, because they didn't want to be killed, thrown in jail or a mental institution.

Most rights groups do not give Cuba good grades, most rights groups like for example Amnesty International are not conservative and part of the anti whatever conspiracy.

There is an entertainment value in the lefts version's of Jesse Helms and his defence of right wing death squads.

Posted by matlock on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 3:57 pm

And here's a bit of free speech for the Cuban expats (since I don't have any taxpayer-financed stadium scam to protect): "Viva Castro!"

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 4:03 pm

Not really

A leftist defending a state with no free press, no free elections and one single party.

Cuba is the antithesis of a western democracy with little concern for individual rights over its history, but it has its defenders among the Jesse Helms left.

So interesting. Showing yet again citizens rights are not safe with the extreme left and right.

Posted by greg on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 6:07 pm

Were rich etc., we should hate them? Are they any less human than you or me? Your post makes zero sense. Hundreds of Thousands of immigrants have come to the US not for a love of apple pie, baseball, or our way of government, but because they knew they would be safe here.

Posted by DNative on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 8:44 am

"you may want to look to more neutral sources"

Read: "Stop reading historically-supported sources and only get your information from Marxist propaganda which push the asinine fable that Castro was a secular saint who never did nobody wrong and saved all of Cuba and healed the lepers".

They did quite a job indoctrinating you.

Posted by Marxist Hypocrisy 101 on Aug. 17, 2012 @ 11:53 am

"Mandela was always a class act."

Yeah, like necklacing, lynchmobs, and trying to incite race wars with a warehouse full of armaments and explosives. "Kill the Boehr". REEEAAAALLLL "classy" stuff that totally excuses the mass murder and oppression synymous with the Castro regime. Go die oin a fire, you worthless fucking shitbag.

"He also knew that the US kept the ANC on its terrorist"

If the shoe fits.

Posted by Marxist Hypocrisy 101 on Aug. 17, 2012 @ 11:50 am

Even Cubans don't support a total US embargo anymore and regardless of whether they did or not - the US is composed of over 300,000,000 people and our foreign policy shouldn't be decided because a few bitter exiles want it that way.

The fastest way to end the Cuban regime is to allow Americans to travel and spend money in Cuba.

Plus Cuban men and women are H-O-T.

Posted by Troll II on Apr. 10, 2012 @ 6:40 pm

since the 70's.

Few in Cuba thinks it is a workers paradise, that would be for American liberals like Greg.

An expanding middle class with some money would be hell for the government.

If the USA would have opened up things in the 70's Castro would probaly be long gone, the only thing the embargo helps is American "idealists" like Greg, right wing ex-patriots in Florida and the last 150 members of the John Birch Society.

Posted by matlock on Apr. 10, 2012 @ 7:59 pm

"Few in Cuba thinks it is a workers paradise, that would be for American liberals like Greg."

I don't know about "worker's paradise"... that's your description, not mine. I do think they do pretty well considering the circumstances they're under. Not everything is perfect there, but name a place where it is. If Americans could get their heads out of the sand for a minute, they might see that we could learn a thing or two.

BTW, I'm not a liberal, and "American" depends on what you mean by the term.

"An expanding middle class with some money would be hell for the government."

Expand to what? The whole country is basically middle class. No one is rich, but no one has to worry about food, clothing, housing, retirement, healthcare, education, or leisure time. That's more than I can say for some in the American middle class.

"If the USA would have opened up things in the 70's Castro would probaly be long gone, the only thing the embargo helps is American "idealists" like Greg, right wing ex-patriots in Florida and the last 150 members of the John Birch Society. "

The US did open things up in the 70s. Carter lifted the travel embargo before Reagan re-imposed it. Castro is still there. I must admit that for tourists Cuba is probably a better place to visit without the "ugly Americans" mucking things up. Still, I oppose the embargo, and it doesn't "help" me in any way. Oh wait... I forget. It's all the progressives' fault. Always.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 10, 2012 @ 10:15 pm

signed the real fref

Posted by greg on Apr. 10, 2012 @ 11:59 pm

Having just returned from Cuba, I disagree with your assessment. People in Cuba are poor. They have day jobs, then many hustle tourists nights and weekends to get some hard currency. The state is trying its best to provide for basic needs, but there is no questioning that the country is impoverished.

That said, most Cubans I met are proud of their country, and don't want it to fall under US domination. Hopefully they can find ways to economic progress and to expanding human rights, without sacrificing autonomy and egalitarian ideals.

Posted by Dan on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

What constitutes middle class? If it's the ability to buy a flat screen TV and imported consumer goods on credit so as to accumulate stuff while accumulating debt, then you're right. Most Cubans don't have access to that kind of lifestyle.

If, OTOH, being middle class means having economic security, knowing that things like healthcare and putting food on the table are secure, then Cubans have more of that than a lot of Americans who are considered "middle class."

Posted by Greg on Apr. 15, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

not even....it's so amusing to hear so many media types parrot the "hitler" comparison...without doing an iota of research on Fidel Castro..

As Tim Redmond so ably point out, Castro led a people's revolution to dethrone a truly evil despot...our guy Batista.

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 7:54 am

there would be some elections and a free press.

It would seem that "the people" need American liberals to do their thinking for them.

Posted by greg on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 6:03 pm

"The whole country is basically middle class. No one is rich, but no one has to worry about food, clothing, housing, retirement, healthcare, education, or leisure time. That's more than I can say for some in the American middle class."

HaHa! Laughable!

Yes, the Cuban middle class is better off than the American middle class.

Especially homosexuals.

Google "Reinaldo Arenas", Gregorio. The Party loves queers in Cuba!

Posted by Troller numbero cinque on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 8:08 am

For a more balanced view, try:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Cuba
Not the best record in the past, but getting a lot better these days.

Reinaldo Arenas? Reinaldo Arenas was a gay Cuban writer who was persecuted in the 1960s and 70s. Yes, and how many gay US writers were persecuted in the 60s and 70s? How many were jailed on sodomy laws in the United States? How many were killed? Reinaldo Arenas? Ha! Google "Matthew Sheppard"!

Not to defend Cuba's past record on LGBT issues, but the supreme irony in your example is that had Arenas chosen to stay in Cuba rather than come to the US in 1980, he'd probably be alive today. In the US, he acquired HIV, battled AIDS for years, and eventually committed suicide in New York by taking a drug overdose in 1990. In Cuba, Castro implemented a quarantine program early on. Yes it was forced, so it was a violation of human rights. But people there were treated well, and as a result the spread of AIDS was drastically reduced and thousands of lives were saved. After several years, the quarantine was relaxed, then abandoned, in favor of voluntary public health measures. Say what you will about those early mistakes, but the effectiveness of the Cuban government's public health intervention is not in dispute. Contrast that to Ronald Reagan's deliberate neglect. How many millions lives were wasted by America's lack of response to the AIDS epidemic -including very possibly Mr. Arenas'? How many lives were saved by the Cuban governments aggressive early intervention? Overly aggressive? You can certainly make the argument. They made mistakes, corrected them as they went along. But in the process, the indisputable legacy of their intervention was that they saved untold thousands of people. Even today, Cuba enjoys the lowest rate of HIV in the western hemisphere, about 1/7 the rate in the United States.

Again, I'm not saying they did everything right. Just pointing out the irony.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 10:41 am

So noone worries about food, clothing, housing, retirement, healthcare, education, or leisure time in Cuba?

I'll grant you, you're right on one point: leisure time. Plenty of that.

I have been to Cuba twice since 1993. Things have improved considerably. But food and clothing are still a problem for many. And as for retirement, there is none.

Posted by Troller numbero cinque on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

"Hitler wasn't so bad" apologias to Castro here.

Starting off with Redmond and then followed up by the little Eichmann chorus.

Amazing.

Posted by Matlock on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 6:16 pm

Has Castro presided over instigating a world war claiming the better part of a hundred million casualties and tens of millions dead? I didn't know.

Posted by #32 on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 8:03 pm

Meaning that the authors of these bits are like Pat Buchanan.

I think perhaps you are unfamiliar with Pat Buchanan, you are "ignorant" and need to be "educated," in the vernacular of the left. Pat Buchanan writes books and articles on how Hitler was forced into all the bad situations he ever got himself into. Nothing Castro ever did was his own fault or the result of his policies. Castro has never had a real election because of some sort citizens united type thing I suppose? Castro doesn't have a free press because it might be biased towards down town?

Reminding some on the American left that Castro is anti everything they claim drives the American left into fits of reading comprehension issues. I'm comparing the little Castro little Eichmanns to Buchahanan. Nice try though.

Posted by Matlock on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 10:34 pm

They squeal like stuck pigs whenever someone on the left compares anyone to Nazis, because unauthorized comparisons to Hitler/Nazis supposedly devalue the currency of the Holocaust and insult the memories of 6 million Jews who died (the other 6-7 million go unmentioned, but that's a whole other can of worms). Yet where are all the pained howls of "antisemitism" when right-wingers play the Hitler card?

Posted by Matlock/guest/fauxgreg on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 10:11 pm

I assume you are saying that I compare Castro to Hitler?

In that they both were anti liberal democracy then sure, that is a comparison.

But in comparing the apologists, Pat Buchannan vs Tim Redmond and the "Castro is a people's revolutionary" crowd, a perfect analogy.

Nothing Castro ever did was because he was a dictator and liked it, he was always forced into whatever he did or did not do, the exact same rationalisations that Buchanan uses.

It really sends you folks into fits when the beneficent genius of Castro the victim is called into question.

Posted by Matlock on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 10:50 pm

So after reading all of these posts.. I'd have to conclude Greg is awesome and well read/spoken.. And Matlock is just a fucking idiot.. Go team Castro.. U.S.A. Should learn how to govern from Cuba

Posted by Neutral on May. 22, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

"As far as I know, Castro was never guilty of mass genocide. "

Blame that on historical illiteracy. He executed more people in his first year in firing squads than the Nazis did in their first six. he ran concentration camps where groups like homosexuals were sent, and he most CERTAINLY tried to impose imperial states up and down Africa and South America.

Posted by GuestMarxist Hypocrisy 101 on Aug. 17, 2012 @ 11:46 am

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