The new US ambassador to Mexico has taken aim at Mexican icon Frida Kahlo for her support of Marxism, stirring up a fierce social media debate with a tweet asking if the painter had not been aware of atrocities committed in the name of that ideology. Few Mexicans have enjoyed greater global recognition than Kahlo, who spent long periods bedridden after a traffic accident in her youth, attained international fame following her death in 1954 and became a feminist symbol in the 1970s. She created some 200 paintings, sketches and drawings – mainly self-portraits – in which she transformed her misfortune into works of bold colour. US Ambassador Christopher Landau, who was appointed by President Donald Trump and sworn in last month, must navigate a volatile bilateral relationship. Trump frequently berates Mexico over trade and immigration. Not shying away from controversy himself, Landau took to Twitter on Sunday (Sep 1) during a visit to Kahlo’s house, now a museum in the colonial-era Mexico City neighbourhood of Coyoacan. “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. Kahlo and her husband, muralist Diego Rivera, embraced Marxism and supported Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, after initially backing his rival, revolutionary Leon Trotsky. Stalin is now widely held responsible for the deaths of millions of people, many in the Gulag network of labour camps. Landau’s tweet drew a mixture of responses. Some of the 1,600 comments were supportive, and accused the government of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of emerging from the same Marxist tradition.