2010 has not been a good year for South American tourist attractions. Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer is the second attraction (after poor Machu Picchu) that has been forced to close due to heavy flooding. Record-setting rains in Rio have damaged access roads, leaving behind heavy debris and making safe passage nearly impossible. Mudslides haven’t helped the matter much either. The trolley line that carries the majority of visitors up Corcovado Mountain will also remain closed. Officials aren’t sure how long it will take to remove all the dirt, trees and rocks but some estimates say it could be six months before access is restored.
Several days after the closure of the statue was announced, vandals broke in and covered the head, arms and chest with graffiti. The statue has been under renovation since last month and surrounded by scaffolding, which the vandals used to climb up, cans of spray paint in tow. Crude phrases including “When the cat’s away, the rats will play”, refer to unsolved crimes and recent violence throughout the city. Rio’s Mayor Eduardo Paes has called the unspeakable act a “crime against the nation”.
Yet disappointed tourists and marred landmarks could be the last thing on Brazilians’ minds. 247 people have been reported dead in these most recent floods with 200 (mainly in the favelas) still missing. Meanwhile, authorities have begun tearing down steep, unstable hillside homes and evicting their residents, rendering nearly 4,000 families homeless.