clear
Wednesday January 17th, 2018 4:50PM

Christ statue in Peru damaged by fire days before pope visit

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

LIMA, Peru (AP) — A giant Christ statue in Peru's capital that was donated by a construction company at the center of Latin America's largest corruption scandal was damaged Saturday in a fire, days before Pope Francis is set to arrive in the South American nation.

Peruvians awoke to find nearly the entire back of the statue, perched on a barren desert bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, charred black.

A spokesperson with Peru's firefighting corps told RPP Noticias that two dozen firefighters responded to the blaze and that an early working theory was the "Christ of the Pacific" was purposely set aflame.

However police later told state news agency Andina that electrical cables for the statue's lighting had short-circuited due to humidity, sparking the blaze.

"Police security for the Holy Father's visit is assured," Col. Manuel Rivera said.

The 69-foot (21-meter) statue was donated by Brazilian company Odebrecht in 2011, and for many Peruvians it has become a sour reminder of the company's illegal maneuverings to court and bribe high-ranking officials in exchange for lucrative public works contracts.

In January 2017, vandals covered the statue in messages like "Out of the country Odebrecht."

Two former Peruvian presidents are accused of accepting money from Odebrecht, and current President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski narrowly escaped impeachment in December over his ties to the company. Opposition lawmakers uncovered documents showing Kuczynski's private consulting firm received $782,000 from Odebrecht more than a decade ago when he was serving as a government minister.

Kuczynski has denied knowing anything about the payments, saying he recused himself from all consulting business while in the position.

The Christ statue's burning comes five days before Francis is scheduled to arrive in Peru.

The pope has hoped to highlight the need to protect the Amazon rainforest during his visit, but Peruvians will be paying close attention to whether he addresses corruption. It's an issue close to his heart, and he has called graft more insidious than sin and a plague that hurts the poorest the most.

The statue cost about $1 million, Odebrecht said in 2011.

Alan Garcia, whose second stint as Peru's president ran from 2006 to 2011 and who's under preliminary investigation into whether he took Odebrecht bribes, has said he contributed about $30,000 out of his own pocket for its construction.

"I want it to be a figure that blesses Peru," Garcia said at the time.

Francis will arrive first in Chile on Monday. Authorities there are on guard after several Roman Catholic churches in the capital, Santiago, were firebombed with pamphlets left at one scene threatening the pontiff: "The next bombs will be in your cassock."

The pamphlets also extolled the cause of the Mapuche indigenous people, who are pushing for a return of ancestral lands and other rights.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: Czech president willing to debate challenger
Czech President Milos Zeman says he is ready to debate challenger Jiri Drahos before the second round of the country's presidential election in two weeks
11:37AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Duke: Coach K to miss Wake Forest game with virus
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski to miss Wake Forest game because of virus; Capel running team
11:37AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Christ statue in Peru damaged by fire days before pope visit
A giant Christ statue in Peru's capital has been damaged by fire days before Pope Francis is set to arrive in the South American nation
11:28AM ( 23 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
World media struggle to translate Trump's Africa insult
President Donald Trump's vulgar insult of Africa was a puzzle for many foreign media organizations, which didn't have a ready translation of it
10:39AM ( 1 hour ago )
Czech president will face runoff election with strong lead
Czech President Milos Zeman failed to win re-election during the first round of voting on Saturday and will face a runoff election in two weeks against the former head of the country's Academy of Sciences
10:26AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Czech president to face runoff election
Czech President Milos Zeman has failed to win re-election during the first round of voting and will face a runoff election in two weeks against the former head of the country's Academy of Sciences
10:01AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP World News
Plan to relieve Manhattan gridlock with tolls gains momentum
A proposal to make part Manhattan a toll zone, where drivers would pay to drive into the most congested neighborhoods, appears to be gaining momentum
10:43AM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump on his promises: Yes on tax cuts but where's the wall?
A year in, Trump has delivered tax cuts, reshaped US posture abroad, but where's the wall?
8:43AM ( 3 hours ago )
South Africa's new party leader targets 'billions' in graft
South Africa's new party leader targets 'billions' in graft that hurt economy; Zuma booed
7:27AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Business
Deadly California slide swept mother, daughter from beds
Marilyn Ramos was asleep in bed with her 3-year-old daughter, Kaelly Benitez, when the deadly mudslide came crashing through their Montecito rental home, carrying both to their deaths along with Kaelly's 10-year-old cousin
8:26PM ( 15 hours ago )
1st trial date set in state lawsuit over opioid epidemic
The first trial date has been set for a lawsuit by a state against pharmaceutical companies over the opioid epidemic
6:29PM ( 17 hours ago )
Deadly slide sweeps mother, daughter, others from their beds
Marilyn Ramos was asleep in bed with her 3-year-old daughter, Kailly Benitez, when the deadly mudslide came crashing through their Montecito rental home, carrying both to their deaths along with Kailly's 10-year-old cousin
6:08PM ( 17 hours ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
The Latest: Czech president willing to debate challenger
Czech President Milos Zeman says he is ready to debate challenger Jiri Drahos before the second round of the country's presidential election in two weeks
11:37AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Duke: Coach K to miss Wake Forest game with virus
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski to miss Wake Forest game because of virus; Capel running team
11:37AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Suspects in Ritz jewel heist jailed on preliminary charges
Three suspects in the bold jewelry robbery that took place on the ground floor of Paris' Ritz Hotel have been handed preliminary charges
11:24AM ( 27 minutes ago )
Abe: Japan enters cooperation pact with Baltic countries
Japan's prime minister says his country has entered into a pact with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to boost economic and political ties with the three former Soviet republics
11:10AM ( 41 minutes ago )
Women taking their right to go topless to state's high court
Three women part of the Free the Nipple campaign who were ticketed for going topless at a New Hampshire beach are taking their fight to the state's highest court.
11:08AM ( 43 minutes ago )