Monday, August 29, 2016


Azerbaijan’s Biggest Export: Heydar Aliyev

 A statue of Heydar Aliyev in Mexico City
A statue of Heydar Aliyev in Mexico City
With the ever-growing personality cult of Azerbaijan’s late national leader, seeing statues of Heydar Aliyev back home is nothing new. But over the past decade tributes to Aliyev have been cropping up in cities all over the world, from Belgrade to Cairo and now all the way to Mexico City.

Take a look at this interactive map by RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service keeping track of the world's Heydar Aliyev statues. The first statue of Aliyev abroad is believed to have been unveiled in Kars, Turkey in 2001 by Heydar Aliyev himself, who passed away two years later. 

View Heydar Aliyev statues around the world in a larger map

In August, a life-sized bronze statue of Aliyev found a home in the newly renovated Azerbaijan-Mexico Friendship park in Mexico City. It has confused the city’s residents and sparked a controversy among human rights activists who point out that a statue commemorating an authoritarian leader who many believe was responsible for stifling dissent during his 10-year presidency should not be on display on Mexico’s Reforma Boulevard alongside the country’s national heroes and the likes of Mahatma Gandhi.

A dozen protesters gathered at the statue last week, among them human rights activist Homero Aridjis, who was quoted in an article on the Huffington Post website as saying: "It's as if they brought a dictator from Mars. Are we going to be a center for monuments to dead dictators? Who’s next? Hitler? Stalin?”

The BBC reports that although most people walking past the monument had never heard of Aliyev, they nonetheless praised the improved aesthetical appearance of the park. 

Azerbaijan donated the majority of the estimated $5 million for the rebuilding of the two parks and two new statues. The second statue, which shows a woman mourning, is an export of another controversial part of Azerbaijan's history. The statue is meant to pay tribute to hundreds of Azerbaijanis killed in Khojaly during the Nagorno-Karabakh War in February, 1992.
At the unveiling of the Aliyev statue, Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico City’s mayor, expressed his gratitude to Azerbaijan, pointing out that the city had never received such a big investment from a foreign government.

PHOTO GALLERY: Heydar Aliyev statues around the world
  • A statue of Heydar Aliyev was unveiled in Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 4, 2004. 
  • There's also a Heydar Aliyev statue in Istanbul, Turkey.
  • Heydar Aliyev's son and current Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev attended the opening of the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, on September 27, 2010.  
  • A Heydar Aliyev statue in Bucharest, Romania. 
  • A monument to Aliyev has also been erected in Astrakhan, Russia. 
  • Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev (left) and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili (right) in front of the Heydar Aliyev statue in Tbilisi. 
  • This statue of Heydar Aliyev was unveiled in Belgrade, Serbia, in June 2011. 

  • Heydar Aliyev's latest statue was unveiled in Mexico City on August 23, 2012. 

The parks are meant to draw the two countries even closer, with Mexico being one of the first countries to recognize Azerbaijan after the fall of the Soviet Union, as Ambassador Ilgar Mukhtarov pointed out. According to Mukhtarov, Mexicans also fondly remember Heydar Aliyev’s visit to the capital in 1981.

Despite the controversy, the statue is not due to leave Mexico’s main boulevard anytime soon, and the city’s residents will continue to walk past the statue, which bears a plaque describing the leader as “a brilliant example of infinite devotion to the motherland, loyal to the universal ideas of world peace.”

-- Deana Kjuka
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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Agalar Shukurov from: Baku
October 03, 2012 15:10
pathetic and cheap! this is all done with the blessings of the imperialist west, where the Aliyevs keep their cash.
In Response

by: OA from: Baghdad
October 03, 2012 22:47
Why are you blaming the west? They benefit from this so, why should they care? You are squandering you millions and filling their coffers! But, it surprises me that the Azerbaijani government does not spend this money to provide shelter for the displaced people it keeps talking about?
In Response

by: Alex from: LA
October 04, 2012 00:02
You are right, other countries are laughing at him, because he is wasting money in their countries for a man that did what again? Why is he admired so much? He is thanking his dad for passing him the reigns of donkeys...

by: Akif from: USA
October 03, 2012 16:19
Deana, really? Aliyev as the biggest Azeri export? Not the billions dollars of oil we export every year?

Anyways. Your implicit criticism has racist undertones. If the US helps renovate a park abroad, and they put up a small monument to George Washington, would you be saying the US is involved in personality cult? Of course, not! Now, Heydar Aliyev is the modern Azeri George Washington. He is a symbol of our statehood.

And as is acknowledged begrudgingly, Mexican park visitors actually appreciate the Azeri investment in the beautification of their city. So what is the problem? I will tell you what it is. It is called racism and envy. Deana, I bet your are from one of the "real" Eastern European countries, with a struggling economy. So it is pleasing to you to ridicule/envy the Azeri success. After all, your own country could never afford such a step of renovating a park in the faraway Mexico.

As for stifling dissent, I am sure you will be engaged in the same very thing when censoring off this comment under your article
In Response

by: Alex from: LA
October 04, 2012 00:07
If George Washington pass on his presidency to his son and his son was doing what Ilham is doing, then you can have the right to compare yourself to a great nation, your nation is 3rd world autocracy, nothing close to democracy exits there, and I'm not talking about illusional democratic instruments that are there to show democracy but not have it. Heydar compare to George Washington how? You learned this propaganda in USA or Azerieshistan?
In Response

by: Akif from: USA
October 04, 2012 13:42
Alex, it is pretty clear from your vitriolics that you are a bigot Armenian who hates everything Azeri and are envious of Azeri prosperity (why else use the 'Azerieshistan' if you are an objective Westerner?). Well, yes, envious, and stay that way :)

Now., about your point about George Washington. He is celebrated not primarily because he was a father of democracy, but because he was the first president/founder of the US statehood. The same applies to Aliyev. I said nothing about democracy. That is a totally different topic. We Azeris can disagree about Aliyev democratic credentials but we all agree that he saved Azeri statehood from disintegration at the hand of Armenian aggression. He is our Ataturk.

So, yes, if we pay to renovate a park in Mexico, we are probably doing it for PR (wouldn't you). And we want to use our symbol of statehood for that. Now, you stay that way, envious of the growing Azeri prosperity. And I understand you why. You know tha tthe stronger the Azeri economy becomes, the closer the day will come when we will liberate our lands from your occupation. Making your enemy envious is a good thing :)
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
October 04, 2012 21:48
Aah,Alex-you`re wrong again_in azeristan they have an old tradition of building statues of honorable,hard working and bright minded animals such as donkeys-esher.Now the azeri leaders-such as Haidurak Aliev wanted to partake in some of this glorifying,and started building monuments of themselves-which is an insult to the animals,of course!!! And eshu zavag Ilham can follow proudly in its fathers footsteps-they say he is going to build a mausoleum and a pyramid dedicated to its magnificent sultan greatness,and the best place for that will be Kosovo,of course!!!And there is another reason Azeri kgbs love Ali Baba haidurakovich-as a kgb general licking stalinist soviet boots he killed tens of thousands azeris sending further thousands to sunny Siberia for reeducation,thats why he is loved so much by his kgb cronies like kakod Aki.Masochism is the guiding element of all kgb stooges.Everybody`s guess is azeri ilhamistan wont survive the next regional conflict in the region-in Syria or in Iran-thats what the wild turkeys and their azeri honchos know very well and thats what makes their pants wet lately.
In Response

by: Truth from: .
October 08, 2012 17:18
And you, Akif, are clearly another azeri blinded by the most corrupt government in the most corrupt country in the world. There's nothing to be envious about a shitty country like azerjan. Armenians have slightly better lives, more powerful military and a much more free democratic state, so why would we be "jealous"?

There's really no reason for anyone to consider Gayder a hero. He was a pathetic leader. He tried to take over Armenia and commit a genocide against the Armenian people and failed miserably. He set up his government to be one that relies on a nonrenewable source. How does he fit in with Washington again?

But I agree, he is like Ataturd. Both have managed to extend their dictatorships after their death because of their cult. The pride you are told to feel is to help your government control you. And sure enough, you're as blind as any other azeri.

Your country is sparking with corruption and wasting money on pointless things and is very unlikely to exist in the coming years. Once you run out of oil, you'll be worse than Iraq :)

by: Mamuka
October 03, 2012 16:21
"We'll fix up your park, but you have to let us put up a monument."

Surprised this did not qualify as a Stupid Dictator Trick.

I knew there was a monument to Aliyev in Tbilisi but I did not know about the statue... vaime...

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
October 03, 2012 17:54
Well,they say money talks,bull_ _ _t walks but in this case the bull_ _ _t is stationary.And the statues seem very small compared to the bigger-than-life ego of Haidurak Babaliev.I say bring them down and build bigger and better ones!!!

by: Ilham from: Azerbawhatever
October 03, 2012 21:15
If that statue is life sized then Geydar must have been a Giant

by: ALex from: LA
October 04, 2012 00:09
"a brilliant example of infinite devotion to the motherland, loyal to the universal ideas of world peace.” In what dimension did he do this, the one where he was born Armenian, because Turks never left Turkmenistan?

by: John Harduny from: Reston, VA, USA
October 04, 2012 03:38
I am disgusted with Ilham Aliyev's Azerbaijan. It is a pathetic and weak state run by corrupt and racist idiots.

by: Ali from: USA
October 04, 2012 05:02
I guess Azerbaijani envoy to Mexico works not very good. . Azeri ambassador to Mexico should demand from Mexican government to raise one statue for every million dollars they received. Why statue of Geydar Aliev's son current ruler of Azerbaijan not next to him, how about Mehriban Aliyeva, his wife ,she must be next to them also.
And why Canadian government dismantled Ilham Aliev's and Mehriban Alieva's statues ? What is doing Azerbaijani ambassador in Canada ,it was his responsibilities do not allow this barbarian act.

by: Kosmos from: London
October 04, 2012 13:57
I agree with most of you that this is wrong.
But what I will not have is people here talking about Azerbaijan like it is not a nation worth a dime. Azerbaijan has a great History most of you have no idea about and inventors, poets, writers, activists, arists and etc.

@ Alex "I'm not talking about illusional democratic instruments that are there to show democracy but not have it."

This makes me laugh, you think there is real democracy in USA? USA is the greatest Illusionist when it comes to Democracy for example George Bush, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and if we go further back the Vietnam war i can go on and on... the Majority of the public didn't want to go to war but they did right?

USA does what it wants without what the people want, and only ignorant citizens believe they have a voice.

anyway i am not here to put down USA or any other nation in that matter... all I ask is for people to understand that the rulers of nations are not the voice of the nation that they rule. Ilham Aliyev isn't the voice of Azerbaijan he doesn't represent Azerbaijan. Obviously politically he does but I never thought when Bush was president that all Americans are southern idiotic embarrassment to the world. what I thought was here we go another puppet. Do some research about my beautiful country before calling it just corrupt and 3rd world... by the way we are not 3rd world we are a semi developed nation. You should check out how Baku is changing day by day.

by: Rasim Isakhanli from: Baku
October 05, 2012 01:09
“Personality cult” is the best way to describe this whole deal. I’m not surprised to be reading about the statue of the former Azeri president in Mexico. My hats off to the former Azeri leader that the statue commemorates, but shame to Azerbaijan First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva for wrecking Azerbaijan and only doing things for the good of herself. What surprises me is that it’s not a statue of Mehriban Aliyeva, who is literally selfish and corrupt enough to put a statue of herself in other countries. Shame. Shame.
Comments page of 2

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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