making such a stupid mistake, allowingn”this Judas” to leave), Trotsky attemptednto settle in Turkey, but had to flee fornFrance, which he, in turn, had to fleenfor Norway, where he couldn’t remainneither, because Coba threatened thenNorwegian government with a boycottnof Norwegian herring for harboringnhim.nThe situation was getting quite tensen— no country was willing to give refugento the prophet of worid revolution. Andnthen, a blessing, a salvation from totallynunexpected quarters. Diego Rivera, anmuralist painter and the most famousnartist in Mexico (who also happened tonbe a Trotskyite) requested political asylumnfor Trotsky and his wife Natalianfrom Mexican President Cardenas. AndnCardenas consented.nThe Trotskys settied at the Riveras’nlarge, azure-painted residence, their socalledn”Blue House” in Coyoacan. AlthoughnDiego loved to repeat that henhad “no home, only the CommunistnParty,” he and his wife, the artist FridanKahlo, lived quite comfortably. ThenBlue House, one of several houses theynhad, was filled with pre-ColombiannMexican art and works of Picasso,nMiro, and Duchamp. “We are on andifferent planet!” excitedly wrotenNatalia Trotsky, unaccustomed to thisncombination of wealth and Bohemia.nDiego was a vigilant and sensitivenhost. The Blue House’s windows facingnthe street were bricked up; he evennbought the large neighboring parcel ofnland and surrounded the entire propertynwith a stone wall that was guardednaround the clock by an internationalngroup of Trotskyites. Frida’s father, annold provincial photographer from Hungary,ncouldn’t quite understand who allnthese people were, who Trotsky was,nand what the commotion was about,nand when she explained it to him, said:n”If you respect this man, tell him to staynaway from politics — it’s a heap of manure!”nIn the Blue House’s cozy kitchen,nthe hosts and the guests would eatntogether, often staying up late, discussingnart and the future of mankind.nTrotsky would recall his plans for Sovietnmilitary strategy — “the road to Parisnand London runs through the towns ofnAfghanistan; from a base in the Urals,nvia Afghanistan, the red cavalry shouldnmove into India and set off an Asiannrevolution . . .”; he would talk aboutn52/CHRONICLESnart — “in the future communist societynart will dissolve into life; there will be nondancers, for instance, since everyonenwill move harmoniously . . .”; or makenpronouncements on politics — “the tribunalnof History will condemn Cain-nStalin . . . !” Somehow, he and Stalin,nboth militant atheists, liked to hud biblicalninsults at each other.nSoon after his arrival in Mexico,nTrotsky requested that a commission benestablished to investigate the allegationsnbrought against him at the Moscownshow trials. And so it was. In thenpresence of about fifty spectators, mostlynAmerican and Mexican reporters, thenseven-member International Commission,nchaired by John Dewey, held itsnsessions in the Blue House’s spaciousnliving room. Because of concern fornG.P.U. sabotage, the house was surroundednby piles of sandbags, andneveryone was searched for weaponsnbefore being admitted inside.nFor Diego and Frida this was a dreamncome true. A “happening,” a piece ofntense theater and a dangerous politicalnevent—all entangled in one! Theynboth would come to the solemn commissionnsessions dressed extravagantlyn— she in long, native Indian outfits,nmulticolored shawls and exotic earrings,nand he wearing a huge, fit-for-a-circusnsombrero adorned with a peacock feather.nAfter a week of daily hearings, thenDewey Commission completely absolvednTrotsky of all charges broughtnagainst him in Moscow.nThe kitchen discussions continued.nTo communicate, they resorted mainlynto French. Diego also knew some Russiann(his first wife was Russian painternAngelina Belova), while Frida loved tonswitch into English, which Natalia Trotskyndidn’t know.nDiego was excited to have at hisndinner table, in the flesh, the mannwhom he used to depict on his frescoesnnext to Lenin. And the sickly andnwanton twenty-nine-year-old Fridan(who was much younger than her husband)nwas flattered by the increasinglyntender attention paid to her by thenformer legendary commander of thenRed Army. She flirted with him andneven gave him a nickname, el Piochiton— the little goat.nAnd Trotsky was, apparently, takennby her. As one of his aides recalled, “Henwould write her a [love] letter and slip itnnninto a book and then would give thenbook to her, often in the presence ofnNatalia and Diego, insisting that shenread it.”nAnd, of course, she would.nSoon, to the great dismay of Trotsky’snbodyguards, who were concerned fornhis safety, el Piochito and Frida werensecrefly seeing each other at the housenof Frida’s sister, Christine.nOn Trotsky’s birthday, November 7,n1937, which also happened to be thenanniversary of the October Revolution,nFrida presented him with her self-portrait.nIn a long flowery dress, a redncarnation stuck in her pitch-black hair,nshe was staring intently from the canvasnthat bore the description: “To LeonnTrotsky, I dedicate this with love.”nThe good thing was that neithernDiego nor Natalia suspected anythingn— Diego, because he himself was involvednin several simultaneous love affairs,nand Natalia because she was totallynabsorbed in her husband’s building ofnthe Fourth International (of which Diegonwas a distinguished member). And,nof course, it helped that el Piochito wasnan old conspirator, and that Frida couldnlie breezily.nBut the bad thing was that Frida’snmood and passion were rather changeable,nto say the- least. After a fewnmonths, she (who according to thencurrent Fodor’s Mexico “was addictednto alcohol and drugs and had affairsnwith . . . several women”) got borednwith Trotsky. Despite old Piochito’sndesperate pleadings, she dropped him.nTrotsky’s relationship with Diegonalso started falling apart. Diego wasnbecoming more and more irritatednwith Trotsky’s stubbornness, his grimndogmatism, his (as Rivera perceived it)nlack of humor. And Trotsky was gettingnmore and more annoyed with Diego’snanarchist tendencies, his “lack of principles,”nhis Bohemian attitude towardnparty matters, his weird jokes.nTrotsky was particularly upset when,nat the time his one son was poisoned bynthe G.P.U. in Paris, and another sonnarrested and shot in Moscow, Riveranpresented him with a red skull madenfrom sugar on whose forehead in bignwhite letters was written — STALIN.nThe moment Rivera left, the angrynTrotsky ordered his aide to break andnthrow away this “gift.”nSoon thereafter, it became knownnthat Diego decided to leave the Fourthn