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Texas plan to execute Mexican national Edgar Tamayo on Jan. 22 sparks worldwide outrage

By staff |
January 20, 2014
Edgar Tamayo
Edgar Tamayo

Huntsville, TX - On Jan. 22 at 6:00 p.m., the State of Texas is planning to execute Mexican national Edgar Tamayo by lethal injection. The planned execution has sparked intense controversy and a broad international movement demanding that Texas halt the execution. Texas has executed far more people than any other state in the U.S., a disproportionate number of them Black and Latino.

Edgar Tamayo, a laborer from Morelos, México living in Texas, was convicted of killing a Houston police officer in 1994. But Tamayo was not informed of his right as guaranteed in an international treaty known as the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to contact the Mexican consulate and request their assistance. In 2004, the United Nations' International Court of Justice ordered the U.S. to reconsider the convictions of 51 Mexicans, including Tamayo, who had been sent to death row without being informed of their consular rights. Nine of those 51 are on death row in Texas. So far, two of that group has been executed; Tamayo would be the third.

Tamayo’s lawyer Sandra Babcock said that if Tamayo would have been notified of his right to contact the Mexican consulate he could have received consular protection and thereby would have had lawyers and investigators that likely could have prevented him from getting sentenced to death, even if he were still found guilty.

Babcock noted that Texas Governor Rick Perry could still commute the death sentence, saying on Univisión, “We still haven’t received a response to our petition for executive clemency, which would commute the death sentence.” But observers note that based on Texas’ general practice, a commutation of the sentence is highly unlikely without massive pressure.

The Mexican government has pressed Texas to stop the execution of Tamayo. In a statement on Jan. 19, Mexico's foreign ministry said, "If Edgar Tamayo's execution were to go ahead without his trial being reviewed and his sentence reconsidered ... it would be a clear violation of the United States' international obligations." In the streets in México the outrage is more visceral: at protests in Cuernavaca, the capital of the Mexican state of Morelos, protesters burned U.S. flags and shut down businesses associated with the U.S. such as McDonalds and Burger King.

Texas’ planned execution of Tamayo causes problems for the U.S. government around the world, not just in México. That’s because if the U.S. government continues to violate the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by executing foreign nationals without notifying them of their right to get help from their country’s consulate, then the U.S. government’s demand for such rights for U.S. nationals in other countries are less likely to be honored.

The Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement is planning a protest outside the prison in Hunstville, where the execution would take place, starting at 5:00 p.m. on Jan. 22, an hour before the scheduled execution. On Facebook, a member of Tamayo’s family encouraged people to sign an online petition (in Spanish) demanding that Texas Governor Rick Perry stop Tamayo’s execution. There is also a sample letter here you can send to Governor Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles demanding they stop Edgar Tamayo’s execution.

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