Ozzie Guillen (Photo: Flickr.)

By Howard Goodman
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting

Although nearly half of Miami’s Cuban-American community views Ozzie Guillen unfavorably, a majority believes he should keep his job as Marlins manager.

This, according to a poll commissioned by ESPN.

Nearly three out of four Miami-area Cuban-Americans found offensive Guillen’s comments that he “loves” Castro and respects him for staying in power for as long as he has. Half found the comments very offensive.

Only 27 percent viewed the motor-mouthed manager “favorably,” while 28 percent view him “extremely unfavorably.”

Nevertheless, 56 percent said he should remain the manager of the Marlins. And among the larger population — Cuban-Americans and non-Cuban-Americans — 69 percent of sports fans and 62 percent of baseball fans said Guillen should keep his job.

The survey of more than 900 adults in the Miami media market was conducted on Tuesday by ESPN and the Global Strategy Group. It included nearly 200 Cuban-Americans. The overall margin for error is plus-or-minus 3.2 percent.

Guillen gave a televised press conference, apologizing for the remarks, on Tuesday.

The strong local reaction to Guillen’s remarks seems to mask a more complicated reality about Cuban-American opinion on Castro.

As the Associated Press noted, Cuban-American political viewpoints have shifted.  “A poll of 800 randomly selected Cuban-Americans conducted by Florida International in 2008 found only 45 percent support maintaining the 50-year-old economic embargo, which bans most U.S. trade with Cuba and most Americans from visiting. Younger generations and those who came more recently were even less likely to support it.”

Yet the rhetoric and discourse on Cuba remain largely in the hands of those with the most hardline positions, wrote the AP’s Christine Armario:

“Even though there is a range of opinion, only one sector of the range is mobilized to speak,” said Jose Gabilondo, a Cuban-born law professor at Florida International University. “And that is the sector that is in a way the holdout from the old hegemony.”