new tv campaign

35 Bodies Publicly Dumped in Veracruz

In September 2011, as Mexican President Felipe Calderon was unveiling a new campaign and TV program to draw wary tourists back to his country, a gang dumped 35 bodies at a busy intersection in the tourist zone in the coastal city of Veracruz.

The gruesome appearance of two truckloads of bloody corpses in front of a large shopping mall at rush hour — just a few blocks from a hotel where state prosecutors were meeting — dominated the news cycle and threatened to overwhelm Calderon’s campaign to tourists.

The images from the travel television program, called “Mexico: The Royal Tour” — clips of gray whales, Mayan pyramids and glasses of amber tequila — clashed with shaky videos captured by cellphone cameras of panicked commuters, wailing police vehicles and half-naked bodies dumped on an underpass near the Veracruz beaches.

Authorities in Veracruz said the 35 bodies included 24 men and 11 women. They quickly tried to calm the public — and foreign visitors — by saying that most of the dead were criminals who were killed by a warring drug cartel.