Latest Deadly Finding Adds to PR Challenges of Mexican Tourism Board

More gruesome news from the drug wars in Mexico: 49 bodies with heads and other body parts missing have been found along a road leading from Monterrey to the U.S. border in Texas. A message reading “100% Zeta” indicates that the deaths are related to the country’s continued deadly drug violence. The Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel are the two biggest drug cartels in the country.

“Mexico’s drug violence has been a public relations nightmare for President Felipe Calderon. The crime scenes inevitably make world news, scaring off would-be tourists and causing foreign investors to think twice,” writes Yahoo News. The story goes on to talk about the Mexican government’s emphasis on the fact that the violence is “contained” to a few places and most of the victims are directly involved with the drug cartels. Still, many inside and outside of the country are scared.

In March, the Mexican tourism board for the state of Sinaloa chose Ogilvy as its AOR. The following is a statement from the Board we received via email in response to today’s deadly news:

“This terribly unfortunate incident represents thuggish infighting between gang-like drug cartels and was not directed at tourists in Mexico.

Local authorities and the Mexican Government is responding to these issues with all of its might and prowess.

The protection of Mexican citizens and tourists alike is at the pinnacle of importance to the Mexican Government.”

Jorge Castañeda, an MSNBC contributor, former Mexican foreign minister, and NYU professor, agrees that the violence has been “concentrated” in a few places and even says the violence is stabilizing. But it’s stabilizing at 1,000 deaths per month and the violence has been going on for about six years. While expressing optimism about the country’s future, Castañeda acknowledges that there’s much work to be done to curtail or end this tremendous problem.

Mexico reported a record-breaking tourism year for 2011 with 22.7 million international tourists. However, the country’s image suffers from the stream of bloody news, which could, in turn, impact those numbers.

[image: The crime scene in Cadereyta, Monterrey, Mexico. Photo: Miguel Sierra  /  EPA via]