- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Sen. Tom Coburn vows to slow down budget-busting bills ahead of recess
- Obama fantasizes about more executive power, signs new order on federal contractors
- Clintons call Klein, Halper, Kessler ‘a Hat Trick of despicable actors’: report
- Boehner accuses Obama of ‘legacy of lawlessness’
- Pro-marijuana group claims responsibility for Brooklyn Bridge flag swap
- Young adults shun Obamacare mostly due to cost: survey
- Stabbing attack on transgender girl, 15, was ‘bias motivated,’ police say
- LGBT adults still lean overwhelmingly toward Democratic Party
- Lawmakers rattled by Syria genocide horrors, call on Obama to act
Statue of Azerbaijan’s strongman the string attached to foreign aid
Question of the Day
MEXICO CITY — 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.”
“It is really out of place,” said Miguel Angel Mendoza, an 18-year-old high school student who was walking past the monument to the longtime ruler, who led Azerbaijan first as Communist Party boss during Soviet times and then as president from 1993 to 2003. “Why couldn’t they put up a monument to somebody who did something good?”
It turns out that Azerbaijan contributed much of the $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!”
“It’s like a personality cult, transferred to Mexico,” said writer and activist Homero Aridjis, who described the style as “social realism from the Soviet era.
“It’s as if they brought a dictator from Mars,” Mr. Aridjis said. “Are we going to be a center for monuments to dead dictators? Who’s next? Hitler? Stalin?”
It wouldn’t be the first time that Azerbaijani PR efforts have drawn criticism. Rights groups protested Azerbaijan’s hosting of the Eurovision song contest, and the radical feminist group Femen protested its hosting this year’s European Cup soccer championship.
Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Mexico, Ilgar Mukhtarov, wrote that Azerbaijan has lavished attention on Mexico because it was one of the first countries to recognize Azerbaijan after the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Aliyev’s monument is surrounded by a manicured lawn and flower beds, and many people like the new park.
Brenda Torres, a 33-year-old architect, was relaxing on one of the four benches installed in front of the monument.
“The people who come here, they like it, right, but they don’t know who he is,” said Ms. Torres.
TWT Video Picks
By Ted Cruz
Israel saves its enemies; Hamas endangers its friends
- Inside the Ring: Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- Army's 3-D printed bombs to create 'a whole new universe' of lethal capabilities
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- GOP leaders delay border bill, leave Obama in control
- Report: 40% of weapons sent to Afghanistan are unaccounted for
- CIA admits improperly hacking Senate computers in search of Bush-era information
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Lois Lerner hated conservatives, new emails show
- Catholic League slams Obama: 'Do Christian lives mean so little to you?'
- U.S. troops told not to eat, drink in front of Muslims during Ramadan
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world