A fire of dubious origin damaged the famous Christ of the Pacific statue in Lima, Peru, charring it days before Pope Francis’ visit to South America.
Residents of Lima awoke Saturday morning to find that nearly the entire back half of the statue was charred black by a fire the night before, according to Crux Now. Two dozen firefighters fought the blaze and authorities initially theorized that it was an act of arson, like the recent church bombings in Chile. Peruvian authorities now say, however, that faulty electrical cables for the statue’s lighting caused the fire.
Suspicions abound concerning the fire’s origin, however, as the statue is a gift from the Brazilian company Odebrecht, that confessed to committing one of the largest business corruption scandals in modern Latin American history. Vandals defaced the statue in January 2017 with messages reading “Out of the country Odebrecht,” two former Peruvian presidents stand accused of accepting bribes from Odebrecht, and Peru’s current president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, was nearly impeached for his connections to the company. The vandals in Chile who bombed three churches and attempted to bomb a fourth left threatening messages against Francis that also accused the church of corruption, specifically related to the church’s use of finances contrasted with a perceived lack of care for the poor.
Francis will begin his visit to South America on Monday, stopping first in Chile and visiting Peru on Thursday. Authorities ensured that Francis would be kept safe from harm during his visit.
“Police security for the Holy Father’s visit is assured,” Col. Manuel Rivera said, according to Crux.
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