Mexico Removes Statue of Controversial Azeri Leader

The controversial – and some would argue oddly out-of-place – statue of the former Azerbaijan strongman leader will be moved to a different part of a Mexico City park following protests from human rights groups.

The statue of former Azeri leader Heydar Aliyev will be moved from its place in a park on the Mexican capital's main avenue that Azerbaijan paid to have renovated. The move has drawn protests from the oil-rich Caucasus nation and a threat to cut off investments to Mexico, the BBC reported.

Azerbaijan has invested around $4 billion in Mexico – including renovating their park – which is more than the 180 diplomatic missions or 45 international organizations based in Mexico City have given for public spaces in the capital, said Marcelo, Mexico City's previous mayor.

Aliyev, a former chief of the Soviet Union’s state security agency the KGB and leader of Soviet Azerbaijan, ruled the nation with a iron fist after the fall of the USSR. During his time in power from 1993 to his death in 2003, there were widespread reports of torture, police abuse as well as restrictions on freedom of assembly and the press.

His son, Ilham, now controls the country and was the first case of top-level dynastic succession in the former Soviet Union.

The younger Aliyev faces election in October and, given the well-publicized human rights abuses in the country, he is keen to promote the country’s charity work abroad. The plaque in Mexico City that accompanies the statue describes Aliyev as "a great politician and statesman.”

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