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Open letter to all progressive people in Mexico on executions.

Introduction: Executions of Mexicans in Texas, by Lee Jeorge Penya

SINCE THE DEATH PENALTY WAS REINSTATED IN TEXAS IN 1976, 12 OF THE 56 prisoners who were executed were Latinos (Dudley Althaus, "Mexican Fights Texas Death Penalty," Houston Chronicle, April 22, 1993). Some of these were U.S. citizens, while others were foreign nationals, including two Mexican citizens. On March 25, 1993, 38--year-old Ramon Montoya, a Mexican citizen, was executed by lethal injection in Huntsville, Texas (Neue Zuricher Zeitung, March 27, 1993 [AP]). He had been found guilty of shooting a Dallas police officer to death in 1983 (Ibid.). Montoya's execution resulted in protests in both Mexico City and his home state of San Luis Potosi (Althaus, op. cit.).

Of the 371 prisoners on death row in Texas, 59 are Latinos, and eight are Mexican citizens (International Defense Committee). On April 22, 1993, Jorge Madrazo, head of the Mexican Human Rights Commission, visited the Texas state prison in Huntsville (Althaus, op. cit.). He went there to visit the eight Mexicans on death row and to consult with their attorneys, as well as with Mexican consular officials, in hopes of preventing the execution of these prisoners (Ibid.).

Two groups that are working to end the execution of Mexicans in the U.S. are Amnesty International (Chicago) and the International Defense Committee in Houston. Aiding them in this cause is Francis Boyle, attorney and professor of law at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Professor Boyle has designed a plan, based on the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, that could put an end to the executions of Mexicans in the U.S. The following is a letter by Professor Boyle.

From: Francis A. Boyle

Subject: Stopping the Execution of Mexican Citizens in the United States. Dear Friends:

I am writing on behalf of all Mexican citizens and Mexican-American dual nationals who have been sentenced to death and are currently awaiting execution in prisons here in the United States, as well as on behalf of Mexican citizens and Mexican-American dual nationals who undoubtedly will be sentenced to death in this country. As you know, there is an enormous racial disparity when it comes to the imposition of the death penalty upon people of color here in the United States. And people of Mexican descent are far more likely to be sentenced to death than are white people in the United States.

I have developed a strategy to put a hold upon all executions of citizens of Mexico as well as those with dual Mexican-American citizenship here in the United States. But I will need your help to put this plan into motion. If you agree with my proposal and launch a public campaign to carry it out, this could put pressure upon President Salinas to implement it and thus save a lot of Mexican people from certain death here in the United States. My proposal is as follows:

Both the United States and Mexico are still parties to the infamous "Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Limits and Settlement," signed at Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848, which ended the so-called Mexican-American War. Article 21 thereof contains a dispute-settlement clause that mandates arbitration between the two countries concerning any matter related to the Treaty or other matters concerning the political or commercial relations of the two states. Hence, you could mount a nationwide campaign in Mexico to convince the Mexican government to invoke Article 21 of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo against the United States government over the execution of Mexican citizens and dual nationals. Mexico must formally demand a stay of execution for all of them pending the arbitration proceedings, which could take quite some time.

Here in the United States, we could then use this invocation to seek stays of execution for all Mexican citizens or dual national around the country pending the conclusion of the arbitration proceedings on the grounds that the Treaty is the "supreme law of the land" under Article 6 of the United States Constitution. Hence, the stays of execution would be requested either by the United States federal government itself under the Clinton administration, or else on a case-by-case basis by the attorneys of record for each Mexican citizen or dual national sentenced to death. My best guess is that if you could get the Mexican government to invoke Article 21, then this maneuver could buy us five years or so on the executions of Mexican citizens and dual nationals here in the United States while the arbitration proceedings carry on. This delay would give us precious time to mount additional challenges to the imposition of the death penalty upon people of all colors here in the United States.

Obviously, the invocation of Article 21 would require you to build a substantial grass-roots campaign and pressure upon the Mexican government. President Salinas seems to be more interested in getting the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) than he is in protecting the human rights and sovereignty of the Mexican people. But with enough time and pressure from the grass roots, and especially during a presidential election campaign, you might be able to turn the government around on the invocation of Article 21. It seems to me that whatever their political persuasions, all Mexican presidential candidates as well as candidates for other public offices in Mexico should be prepared to support a campaign to prevent the execution of Mexican citizens and Mexican-American dual nationals in the United States.

Well, that is my proposal. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly at (217) 333--7954. We in the United States need your help to stop the mass murder of Mexican citizens and dual nationals in this country. Their lives are literally in your hands. I ask you to give the most serious consideration to the invocation of Article 21.

Thank you very much for your kind attention to this matter. It has been greatly appreciated. Very truly yours, Francis A. Boyle, Professor of International Law
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Title Annotation:Rethinking Race
Author:Boyle, Francis A.; Penya, Lee Jeorge
Publication:Social Justice
Date:Mar 22, 1993
Previous Article:"Together, forever, tonight": Latinos and social revolution in the United States.
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