Manuel Rueda

You know when a distant relative gives you some particularly awful piece of art that you can't exactly throw away but you don't want to display too prominently where someone might actually notice it and quietly question your mental health?

Mexico has that problem, thanks to an imperious-looking statue of Azerbaijan's former Soviet-era leader Heydar Aliyev, which gazes wistfully towards the horizon, pondering the contributions of the lumpenproletariat, or something like that.

The statue of the old communist leader, first given to the Mexican government in 2012, has become somewhat of a headache for Mexican officials, who have quietly tried to shuffle it around the capital in hopes of finding a place to put it where no one will notice.

The statue was originally placed in a park overseeing the city's busy Reforma Avenue, but quickly removed after some residents complained the monument glorified the legacy of a dictator.


Mexico City residents and members of the Armenian expat community blame the former Azerbaijani leader, who died in 2003, of committing human-rights abuses, censoring the media and promoting his cult of personality with an iron fist during his tenure.

Bowing to pressure, Mexico City then-Mayor Marcelo Ebrad removed the statue and stuck it in a warehouse until he could think of a Plan B. He couldn't. But getting rid of it permanently has proven difficult; Azerbaijan's Ambassador to Mexico threatened to suspend his nation’s $4 billion worth of investments and cut diplomatic ties if the state removed the statue from display.

Now, the new mayor of Mexico City thinks he's come up with a solution. Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera announced last week that his administration will give the Azerbaijani government a piece of prime real estate in the opulent Lomas de Chapultepec neighborhood where the statue can be displayed in all its glory on private property.


But Mayor Mancera may have spoken too fast, since he doesn't have the authority to give land to a foreign government without permission from the Foreign Ministry.

Meanwhile, activists who were instrumental in the removal of the statue in the first place are still fighting to remove a marble map from the base of the disfigured monument that awards Azerbaijan territory that's under dispute with Armenia.