MIAMI -- A contrite and at times emotional Ozzie Guillen apologized for more than an hour Tuesday for having said "I love Fidel Castro," categorizing the remark -- which ignited a firestorm in Miami's Cuban exile community and beyond -- as "stupid."
But just 100 yards from where the Miami Marlins' fiery manager delivered his astonishing mea culpa, hundreds of protesters made it clear that for them, he can't take back what he said.
A 200-person protest organized by the anti-Castro group Vigilia Mambisa just outside the stadium's gates watched Guillen's news conference on a jumbo screen and chanted in Spanish, "Liar! Liar! Get rid of him." The picketers were largely in agreement: If Guillen stays, their business goes.
The Marlins, whose new taxpayer-funded stadium sits in the heart of Little Havana, took the first step toward trying to heal the rift Tuesday by announcing Guillen will be suspended for the next five games, beginning with today's contest.
"I feel as though I have betrayed the Latino people," Guillen told reporters at a packed news conference, which was televised nationally. "I'm very embarrassed, very sad and I'm very, very, very sorry."
Guillen, the 48-year-old Venezuelan skipper, will not collect a paycheck while suspended; instead, the team will donate about $150,000 to human-rights charities, The Miami Herald has learned.
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said the remarks "have no place in our game" and were "offensive to an important part of the Miami community and others throughout the world."