La Jornada reported on Sunday that Mexican foreign minister José Antonio Meade Kuribreña has sent letters to Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles petitioning for the postponement or commutation of the execution of Edgar Tamayo Arias, a Mexican citizen whose death sentence is scheduled to be carried out on Jan. 22.  The 46-year-old Tamayo Arias, who was found guilty of shooting and killing a Houston police officer in 1994, is one of 50 other Mexicans whose cases the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered the United States to review after it established that the US had not allowed representatives from the Mexican consulate to meet with the accused. 

That meant, the court found in 2004 in what has become known as the “Avena case,” that the United States had breached international law – specifically, Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, ratified by the United States in 1963, which gives citizens arrested or detained the right to have notification sent to their embassy or consulate, which can then meet with the citizen.  Tamayo Arias would be the third Mexican to be executed of the Avena case’s group of 50, along with José Ernesto Medellín and Humberto Leal García, who were executed in 2008 and 2011, respectively.

Mexico’s foreign relations ministry told La Jornada that the letter from Meade Kuribreña refers to a July 2008 promise from Gov. Rick Perry in letters sent to then-US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and US Attorney General Michael Mukasey that Texas would review those cases associated with the violation of the Vienna Convention.  It also follows another letter sent by US Secretary of State John Kerry earlier in December to Gov. Perry and the Texas attorney general. In it, according to the New York Times, Kerry wrote that executing Tamayo Arias before a review of the case would problematize the United States’ ability to comply with the ICJ’s ruling and argued that to do so could impact accused Americans’ treatment abroad. “I have no reason to doubt the facts of Mr. Tamayo’s conviction, and as a former prosecutor, I have no sympathy for anyone who would murder a police officer,” Kerry wrote, adding, “Our consular visits help ensure U.S. citizens detained overseas have access to food and appropriate medical care, if needed, as well as access to legal representation.”