Mexico had vowed to exhaust all efforts to prevent the execution tomorrow of a Mexican inmate on death row in a Texas prison but now it appears those efforts were unsuccessful.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles today voted unanimously against a recommendation to the governor to halt the execution of Mexican national Rubén Cárdenas.
In two votes that went 6-0, the board voted against recommending that Governor Greg Abbott postpone the inmate’s death by lethal injection and that his sentence not be commuted.
Yesterday, Foreign Affairs official Carlos Sada told a press conference yesterday in Mexico City that Texas prosecutors did not follow due process in the case of the 47-year-old Cárdenas, who was sentenced to death for raping and killing his 15-year-old cousin in 1997.
“From the start, there has been a failure, and from our perspective, this is an illegal act,” Sada said of the execution.
The foreign affairs undersecretary for North America said Cárdenas was not given the opportunity to speak with Mexican consular officials, a violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
The inmate is one of 51 Mexican prisoners on death row in the U.S. who were the subject of a 2004 ruling by the International Court of Justice that the U.S. had violated international law for not informing them of their right to consular assistance.
The court ordered a review of those cases.
Sada also said Mexico would seek to overturn how Cárdenas’ confession was obtained, and look to exonerate him with up-to-date DNA testing, Reuters reported yesterday.
His lawyer has alleged that Cárdenas didn’t commit the crime. The Laredo Morning Times reported last week that the case has been plagued by claims of unreliable forensic evidence, conflicting statements and witnesses, concerns about ineffective lawyers, and allegations of a coerced confession.
But Texas prosecutor Ted Hake said the international court’s ruling is “not enforceable” and there is no mechanism in Texas to hold the review it ordered.
Besides which, he said, “This guy is guilty as sin.”
It is not the first time Mexico and the U.S. have clashed over the execution of Mexican nationals on U.S. soil because there is no death penalty in Mexico.
The case is yet another irritant for troubled Mexico-U.S. relations, already hurt by President Donald Trump’s plans for a border wall and his threats to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“It is as if the United States were thumbing its nose at the government of Mexico and the United Nations,” said Sandra Babcock, a Cornell Law School professor specializing in international issues surrounding capital punishment. “And when I say the U.S., I should be clear that we’re talking about Texas.”
Unless the Texas governor chooses to grant a 30-day postponement, Cárdenas will die tomorrow at 6:00pm.