Soviet-Era Statuary Art In….Mexico?

Well, this is unusual:

The appearance of a life-size statue of Azerbaijan’s “founder of the nation” on Mexico City’s elegant Reforma Avenue, not far from Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln and Mexico’s national heroes, is raising eyebrows and protests.

The Stalin-esque, bronze statue of Geidar Aliyev, the late authoritarian leader of the Caucasus republic, carries a plaque calling him “a brilliant example of infinite devotion to the motherland, loyal to the universal ideals of world peace.” The monument erected in late August shows Aliyev sitting in a bronze chair in front of what appears to be an enormous, white marble map of Azerbaijan.

It turns out that Azerbaijan contributed much of the 65 million pesos ($5 million) it cost to renovate not one, but two Mexico City parks, allowing it to put monuments in both. Critics say that Aliyev, who stifled dissent, shouldn’t be on a boulevard decorated with statues to Mexican and foreign heroes.

“They probably have a warehouse full of these things somewhere” in Azerbaijan, said Daniel Gershenson, human rights activist who was one of about a dozen protesters who demonstrated last week in front of the monument, holding banners that read “Get rid of the dictator!”

I suppose if Azerbaijan provided the money to renovate the parks, it’s their right to include some statues, though I’d love to sit in on the Azerbaijani budget meeting where they decided to spend $5 million of their money on parks in Mexico. Still, I’m not sure anybody walking through Mexico has ever said, “you know, what this place needs is more Soviet-era statues!”

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About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
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