View Mobile Site

At Marlins Park, protester is lonely

Text Size: Small Large Medium
POSTED April 13, 2012 8:37 p.m.

 

 

MIAMI (AP) — Lazaro Diaz stood in front of Marlins Park watching fathers and sons in jerseys and baseball caps pull out their tickets and smile for photographs.

He was there with his teenage son, too. They had driven three hours from their home in Fort Myers to be at the stadium Friday evening, but they did not wear fan gear or pose beside the team's giant, inflatable logo.

Diaz, a short and determined man of 56, came to express his frustration with the team's manager, Ozzie Guillen, who caused a firestorm of controversy this week over his comments in a TIME magazine article professing love and admiration for Fidel Castro.

Guillen later recanted, issuing a tearful apology in Spanish and English and saying that he neither loved nor respected the Cuban dictator.

Diaz did not believe him.

Yet where about 100 angry Cuban-Americans stood in protest on Tuesday, chanting outside as Guillen delivered his apology in the stadium, just one stood on Friday, the day of the first home game since the incident erupted.

Diaz said he couldn't find any other protesters, and even he hesitated to call himself one. He carried no signs, just a T-shirt with the words, "Cuba, yes. Castro, no," a Cuban flag on the sleeve and an image of Fidel Castro's face in flames in the back.

"I came here to express that I'm against him, and that they need to kick him out," Diaz said, his face tired and worn. "He has every right to the freedom of speech, but he shouldn't have said what he did to this community."

He said he also came to teach his son, "what freedom in the United States is about."

Fifteen-year-old Brooks Diaz, wearing earplugs, looked on beside his father. He was born in the United States, had never been to Cuba and only spoke a little Spanish.

When asked what he thought of Guillen, the teen said, "I think what he said was wrong and he should stay out of politics. He's a baseball manager. That's all he should be."

"That's a good answer, son," his father said. "I'm proud of you."

The teen, with shortcut, light brown hair and a black T-shirt said he also wanted to support his heritage. But, like many younger Cuban-Americans at the stadium on Friday, he did not share all of his views.

Given the chance, Brooks Diaz said he'd attend a Marlins game.

"Baseball is baseball," he said. "I don't see the team differently."

"Would you go to a game at this stadium?" his father asked, pointing toward the colossal, white building, gleaming beneath an early evening sky.

"Yes," he said.

Lazaro Diaz shook his head in disagreement. Two of his uncles had been executed in the early years of the revolution, he said, "just for doing what I'm doing here."

"The only error they committed was saying they were against Fidel Castro," he said.

He said he couldn't give any of his money to, "a man who said what he said." Then he and his son continued walking, away from the stadium hundreds of people were entering, for the long drive back home.

 

Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...