Mexico: Statue of former Azerbaijian President Heydar Aliyev raises eyebrows in Mexico City


A huge poster of former Azerbaijian President Heydar Aliyev in the country's capital Baku on May 22, 2012.

A life-size statue of former Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev in Mexico City is causing confusion and controversy in the Mexican capital, the BBC reported.

Confusion because most people have never heard of Aliyev, who was president of the oil-rich nation from 1993 to 2003, and controversy because the late authoritarian leader has been accused of crushing dissent during his time in office.

"It's as if they brought a dictator from Mars," writer and activist Homero Aridjis was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.

"Are we going to be a center for monuments to dead dictators? Who's next? Hitler? Stalin?"

The BBC said Azerbaijian  provided most of the $5 million used to renovate two gardens in Mexico City, allowing the Caucasus republic to install two monuments, including the bronze statue of Aliyev in Azerbaijian Park, as it is now called.

The monument of Aliyev, sitting in a chair in front of an enormous marble map, was unveiled in August, much to the bemusement of local residents.

"It is really out of place," said Miguel Angel Mendoza, an 18-year-old high school student, was quoted by the AP as saying.

"Why couldn't they put up a monument to somebody who did something good?"

Human rights activists argue it is inappropriate to honor a leader guilty of human rights abuses, let alone on Mexico City’s Reforma Boulevard alongside Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln and Mexico’s national heroes, Radio Free Europe reported.

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