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Keys: Why the pope's trip to Peru is important

The pope will arrive in Peru from Chile on Thursday afternoon, January 18. On Sunday, he will depart for Rome shortly before midnight. The Holy Father will visit three cities – Lima, Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo.  

WHY IS HE GOING TO PERU?

There are two very important reasons for the trip.

The first is the country's suffering of natural disasters this year, like those related to the El Niño coastal storm that left one hundred dead and forced 141,000 people to abandon their homes. 

Pope Francis believes it's a result of climate change for which man is partly responsible. The pope wants to demonstrate the consequences of environmental abuse and make the world population aware of its role. 

The second cause of Pope Francis' trip is the polarization of society in Peru. As with his visits to Mexico and Colombia, the pope wants to resew the social fabric and show it's possible to work on the same project for the good of all, even if there are differing opinions. 

In September, the Holy Father presented the Peruvian president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski with this olive branch medal containing a message.

“It has two branches, and this is the emptiness of disunion and of wars... so your work is one that unites, more and more.”

GUZMÁN CARRIQUIRY
Secretary, Pontifical Commission for Latin America
“What the pope wants in each country is the rebuilding of that social friendship. The pope wants the restoration of ties, of the social and familial fabric that make a people out of a population, that make a nation.”

WHICH TOPICS ARE ON THE AGENDA?

The pope's first stop will be Puerto Maldonado, in the Amazon. He will meet there with indigenous populations. They are the ignored, forgotten and most fragile citizens in society.

One million indigenous people live in the Amazon in 400 different populations. 

The pope's discourse will give clues as to which issues the synod on the Amazon will address in September 2019 in Rome, which will join all bishops from the region.

Seventeen percent of the Amazon jungle has already been destroyed. There are currently 250 dam projects that could alter the ecosystem and doom the indigenous who live there. 

Another problem in the Puerto Maldonado area is illegal gold mining, in which thousands of people work in conditions of slavery, threats and extortion.

On Saturday, January 20, Pope Francis will travel to Trujillo, a city in the north that was severely hit by natural disasters. There, the pope will appeal for social responsibility in the face of climate change. 

On the final day, the Holy Father will meet with bishops from the country in Lima. He will also leave them with a message of unity. He will pray before the remains of one of his favorite saints, St. Martin of Porres. Look at the pope's reaction when the bishops gifted him with a portrait of the saint. 

POPE FRANCIS
“Some are devoted to saints, others to ecology, and I'm devoted to the broom. Thank you, thank you very much.”

WHAT SHOULD WE LOOK FOR?

The political situation in Peru has been turbulent in recent months, and Pope Francis will likely make a strong call for tranquility.

In December, the president of Peru was accused of corruption and nearly impeached. He was saved by the vote of a few of his opponents who are supporters of Fujimori.

Days later, on Christmas Eve, the president surprisingly pardoned the ex-president Fujimori, who was in prison for financial crimes and human rights violations during his presidency in the 1990s.

The act has caused wide social unrest among the president's supporters as well as his opponents.