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Massacre in Mexico deepens country's violent image

Forty-nine bodies were dumped on a highway in northern Mexico in the latest example of drug-related violence that is scaring off investors and changing citizens' behavior at home.

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Mexican federal police and forensic investigators at the site where bodies were found on the highway between Monterrey, Mexico and the US border.

Christian Palma/AP

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Forty-nine bodies have been dumped on a highway in northern Mexico – and by the time the world wakes up Monday morning, the harrowing image will have been beamed across the globe.

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.

But imagine being a resident of one of the cities where violence is playing out, with the misfortune to witness the mayhem not on a television set but firsthand.

That is what happened to Carolina Gomez, a young teacher who happened to drive past a similar scenario in her home of Veracruz, in eastern Mexico, when 35 bodies were left under a highway overpass in the middle of rush hour traffic last September. She had been on her way to a tutoring job after school.

The Monitor profiled her family in a cover story about the ways that violence is impacting Mexicans not directly swept up in it.

The dumping of the bodies was a tipping point for the city of Veracruz, but also in the personal story of Ms. Gomez. As a teacher, she had heard cases of parents kidnapped, and even seen a corpse left outside of her school. She had to take security training on what to do in the case of a shootout. And she never left home – including on this day – without checking Twitter first to map out safe routes.

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