Mexican-born Javier Suárez Medina was executed by the state of Texas on Wednesday, August 14, 2002, despite claims that he had not been given legal assistance guaranteed to foreign nationals by the Vienna Convention of Consular Relations. Approximately 90 minutes before his scheduled execution time, a request by Suárez's lawyers to halt the lethal injection was turned down without comment by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Javier Suárez Medina was sentenced to death in 1989 for killing a police officer during an undercover drug operation. The 1963 Vienna Convention of Consular Relations, which the United States has signed, states that foreign nationals who are arrested have the right to contact their consulates, but Suárez's supporters say that he was never notified of his right. Since the death penalty is not a legal method of punishment in Mexico, many believe that Suárez would not have been given that sentence had he recieved help from Mexico. The case is complicated by Texas claims that Suárez gave unclear information regarding his place of birth, and Mexican claims that Texas gave them unclear information regarding Suárez's birthplace.

Though Suárez's guilt is not in doubt, the United States has shown disregard for the many groups that have expressed support for Suárez, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the UN Sub-Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, the President of the European Union, the American Bar Association, and Mexican President Vicente Fox. This dismissal highlights America's recent trend toward a "lone-wolf" stance in international issues.

Suárez's comments also highlight one of the problems inherent in the death penalty: that it frees inmates from years of imprisonment. "There's a part of me that's looking forward to it," Suárez said, "I'm more at peace now. I know that the state views executing me as punishing me, but I consider this sending me to my real home."

Associated Press