Mexico to move Aliyev’s statue

Mexico to move Aliyev’s statue

MEXICO CITY – Agence France-Presse
Mexico to move Aliyev’s statue

In this Oct. 1, 2012 file photo, a man walks past a life-size bronze statue of late Azerbaijan president Geidar Aliev on Mexico City's main boulevard, Reforma Avenue. AP Photo

A bronze statue of Azerbaijan’s late leader is going to be booted out of Mexico City’s most famous avenue after rights activists complained that a “dictator” did not deserve such an honor.

Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said Jan. 22 that the likeness of former president Heydar Aliyev would be removed from its prime location off the heavily-traveled Reforma Avenue this week and that a new spot would be found. “We will proceed this week,” Mancera said.

The embassy of Azerbaijan had paid $5 million to spruce up two city parks and place the statue in a corner of the sprawling Chapultepec Park last August. But the statue’s appearance angered activists who said it had no place in a city that boasts monuments for figures such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

While supporters remember Aliyev as the father of Azerbaijan’s independence from the Soviet Union, critics recall him as the strongman who cracked down on dissent, jailed opponents and stifled the media during his 1993-2003 rule.

The mayor said the city will hold negotiations with the Azerbaijani embassy to find a new location for the statue, which was inaugurated under his predecessor, Marcelo Ebrard.

A spokesman for the embassy, however, said that the Azerbaijani mission had “not made a decision” regarding the fate of the statue and that negotiations with the government were continuing.