Originally built to be a tourist attraction, the Christ of Galeras has ended up an unlikely victim of Mexico’s gang wars.
Built from a vision of hope and love, the 50-foot tall statue has been plagued by vandals and gang members who have commandeered the statue for its excellent vantage point on the hill. Covered in graffiti and stripped of copper and any other materials of value, townspeople refuse to visit the statue out of fear of the dangerous people that skulk around the perimeter of it. Authorities have shown little interest in cleaning up the statue or providing any sort of surveillance at the site. Evidence that not even the most pious of Catholics have made the pilgrimage to the area lies in the path up the mountain, littered with debris and flanked by fallen fencing. Broken windows in the base, gang signs spray painted on the walls and doors, and the stench of human waste permeates the religious symbol meant to bring Jesus’s love (and tourists) to the area.
The government’s disinterest in restoration or even demolition has made the future of the five-ton Christ uncertain. This homage to piety has become a potent vision of lawlessness.
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