The Aug. 24 decision by delegates representing the 42 nations that make up the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) to award the 2007 Pan American Games to Rio de Janeiro instead of San Antonio reflects growing international disgust with the death penalty in Texas.
The strong leadership of Mexican President Fox, demonstrated by his cancellation of a scheduled visit to Texas in protest of the Aug. 14 execution of a Mexican citizen, coupled with Texas' loss of the Pan American Games, should motivate Texas leaders to conduct a serious re-evaluation of the Death Penalty. Texas will continue to be punished by the international community, unless it enacts a moratorium on executions and takes steps to make the system fair.
Governor Perry made a major blunder by refusing to stay Javier Suarez Medina's execution and then going to Mexico to ask the nations of Latin America to send their people to San Antonio for the Pan American Games. The PASO delegates, representing the people of Latin America, sent a message that Texas needs to clean up its act. They apparently felt that the Pan American Games should be awarded to a country where participants and international sports fans, especially from Latin America, will not be in danger of having their human rights violated by the host nation.
The Texas death penalty has now cost the people of Texas hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs that would have been created by staging the Pan American Games in San Antonio. This should be a wake-up call for Texas. We cannot continue to violate international law by executing people after we violate their legal rights to consult with their consulates and by executing juvenile offenders.
Violations of consular notification rights and executions of juvenile offenders are both prohibited by treaties to which the United States is bound. Texas is virtually the only place on Earth that continues to execute people who commit crimes under the age of 18.
A few matters in Texas stand out amongst the international human rights community:
-Oswaldo Regalado Soriano, is a citizen of Mexico, who is on Texas death row for a crime he committed at the age of 17.
- Ricardo Aldape Guerra was a completely innocent citizen of Mexico who spent 15 years on Texas' death row before being fully exonerated and released in 1997.
- 66 % of all people on death row in Texas are minorities.
Texas Moratorium Network, an organization with a growing support base of more than 8,000 people across the state of Texas, is working to establish a moratorium on executions.