Mexico City — The artist Frida Kahlo is long gone, but her memory has been kept alive by countless adoring fans.
But the new U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Christopher Landau, blasted Kahlo on Twitter for supporting Marxism before she died 65 years ago. His tweet asked if Kahlo had been aware of atrocities committed in the name of that ideology.
Landau was appointed by President Donald Trump and sworn in last month.
She created some 200 paintings, sketches and drawings — mainly self-portraits — and continues to be the focus of exhibits, books and conversation.
Landau took to Twitter, on the official @USAmbMex account, on Sunday while taking a selfie at Kahlo’s blue house, now a museum in Mexico City.
“I admire her free and bohemian spirit, and she rightly became an icon of Mexico around the whole world. What I do not understand is her obvious passion for Marxism, Leninism, Stalinism. Didn’t she know about the horrors committed in the name of that ideology?” he wrote in Spanish.
It’s true that Kahlo and her husband, muralist Diego Rivera, embraced Marxism and supported Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. Stalin is considered responsible for the deaths of millions of people in labor camps.
Landau’s tweet drew a mixture of responses — supportive and otherwise — and grew his following from around 40,000 to more than 78,000. Some of the 1,800 comments were supportive, while many responded to defend Kahlo.
“In the name of fighting that ideology, the U.S. killed children in Vietnam by bombing entire villages and supporting dictatorships throughout Latin America,” said user @Quetzalcoaltl1.
The Mexican Communist Party weighed into the debate, saying: “Ambassador Landau, Comrade Frida was consistent with humanism, the search for democracy and freedom of Mexico’s workers and people, and therefore she was a Marxist-Leninist, and of course Stalin’s admirer. Don’t show your ignorance anymore, imitating Trump.”
The U.S. Embassy in Mexico said no further comment about the debate is forthcoming.