Last month, a crowd of professional clowns clad in white took to the streets of Acapulco to demand an end to the Mexican resort city's staggering rates of homicide and violent crime.
Salvador Alarcón Arizmendi, better known as "Noodle of the Watery Soup," began the march with a speech lamenting the recent violent deaths of two of his fellow clowns, and the spread of crime to the city center, once considered off-limits for gang violence.
While the entire country has seen an increase in violent crime in recent years, largely due to an escalation in gang and cartel activity following police crackdowns, Acapulco has been hit particularly hard. The once glamorous city was a popular holiday destination for the Hollywood elite in the 50's, but has since been dubbed "Mexico's murder capital," due to its 6-year run as the most deadly location in the country.
While tourism has "remained steady," largely due to plummeting prices attracting less affluent holiday-goers willing to risk their necks for a bargain, the clowns claim that the violence is damaging their livelihood. Bookings for clowns are down by more than 50%. Residents are just too afraid to throw parties, fearing any sign of affluence will attract criminals.
In January, the US state department Travel Advisory began officially advising US citizens not to visit the state of Guerrero, including Acapulco:
"Do not travel due to crime. Armed groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero. Members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and may use violence towards travellers. U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel to the entire state of Guerrero, including Acapulco."