Texas Executes Mexican National Despite Multiple Objections

Despite objections by the Mexican government and the U.S. secretary of state, Texas executed Mexican national Edgar Arias Tamayo Wednesday night.

Texas Executes Mexican National Despite Multiple Objections
Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Despite objections by the Mexican government and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Texas executed Mexican national Edgar Arias Tamayo Wednesday night. 

Tamayo was convicted of first-degree murder for killing Houston police officer Guy Gaddis in 1994. Tamayo was executed by lethal injection at 9:32 p.m. Wednesday. He didn't offer any last words. (Via KPRC)

Tamayo's crime was horrific — he shot officer Gaddis in the head after being arrested for robbing another person. But Tamayo's attorney believes the crime wasn't the real issue here.

According to the Los Angeles Times, when the Supreme Court denied Tamayo's request for a stay of execution, his attorney released this statement: "This case was not just about one Mexican national on death row in Texas. The execution of Mr. Tamayo violates the United States' treaty commitments, threatens the nation's foreign policy interests, and undermines the safety of all Americans abroad."

And the State Department seems to agree. Secretary of State John Kerry hasn't responded directly to the execution but is on record urging the state of Texas to reconsider because, as Al Jazeera puts it, the execution would "make it more difficult to protect U.S. citizens in legal trouble abroad." (Via The White House)

As MSNBC writes, "​The heart of the debate was not whether or not Tamayo, 46, was guilty of the crime he was sentenced for, but if the process that led to his conviction violated established international law in how the courts deal with foreign nationals."

The controversy concerning Tamayo's case and others like it comes from a 2004 request by the U.N. International Court and the U.S. Supreme Court's 2008 response to that request. 

In 2004, the World Court asked the U.S. to review and reconsider the cases of 51 Mexican nationals sentenced to death within the U.S. This list included Tamayo. (Via Texas Department of Criminal Justice)

The World Court claims the U.S. violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The Vienna Convention is an international treaty that, among other things, compels the U.S. to inform foreign nationals who are arrested of their right to request legal help from the Mexican consulate. 

Despite the World Court's request, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that Texas is not required to comply with the international court, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry couldn't agree more. 

Perry said in a statement: "It doesn’t matter where you're from. If you commit a despicable crime like this in Texas, you are subject to our state laws." (Via The Dallas Morning News)

But Mexico argues the execution of Tamayo and other Mexican nationals scheduled to be put to death in the U.S. are all international violations.

"The point is they are breaching international law again. ... If our nationals don't have review on this point, they are breaching international law." ​(Via CNN)

Of the World Court's list of 51 Mexican nationals on death row in the U.S., Tamayo was the third to be executed.