Commentary: Why consular rights were not an issue in death row case

  • Dudley Sharp
  • Special to the American-Statesman
Updated Nov 09, 2017
“The courts have found that Texas fully complied with the due process of law” in the case of death row inmate Ruben Cárdenas-Ramírez, who was convicted of raping and killing a teenager, writes capital punishment advocate Dudley Sharp. Cárdenas-Ramírez was executed late Wednesday.

Austin based Mexican Consul General Carlos González Gutiérrez presented a highly distorted version of human rights.

Sixteen-year-old Mayra Laguna was kidnapped, raped, tortured and murdered in South Texas in 1997. Her cousin, Mexican national Ruben Cárdenas-Ramírez, was convicted and sentenced to death. He was executed late Wednesday.

González Gutiérrez is complaining that it is the convicted rapist-murderer whose human rights are violated. González Gutiérrez showed zero interest in Laguna’s human rights.

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If anyone is undermining human dignity, it is González Gutiérrez himself.

He states that Cárdenas-Ramírez “was denied the right to due process of law, as he was not granted prompt access to consular assistance.” This demonstrates that González Gutiérrez is not even aware of true violation of the subject Vienna Convention, which was that the rapist/murderer was not informed that he had the right to speak to the Mexican consulate — if he wanted to. That’s it.

No one has ever disputed that this breach of consular protocol occurred and that the rapist-murderer and his attorney could have promptly spoken to the consular office at any time had they wished to. They didn’t.

The Vienna Convention states: “Realizing that the purpose of such privileges and immunities is not to benefit individuals but to ensure the efficient performance of functions by consular posts on behalf of their respective States.”

This case has had 20 years of super due process — an Eighth Amendment protection — inclusive of countless reviews of the Vienna Convention issue and many others. The courts have found that Texas fully complied with the due process of law and may justly execute this rapist-murderer.

COURTS: Supreme Court reviews another Texas death penalty case.

González Gutiérrez left out some crucial details of the International Court of Justice decision: The court found that the appropriate reparation in the case was in the obligation of the U.S. “… to provide, by means of its own choosing, review and reconsideration of the convictions and sentences of the Mexican nationals referred to” and “ unanimously finds that, should Mexican nationals nonetheless be sentenced to severe penalties, without their rights under Article 36, paragraph 1 (b), of the (Vienna Convention) having been respected, the United States of America shall provide, by means of its own choosing, review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence, so as to allow full weight to be given to the violation of the rights set forth in the Vienna Convention.”

Texas chose to provide super due process and no more for this and other horrid offenders.

Make no mistake, when González Gutiérrez states “we will continue tirelessly protecting our nationals,” he is not speaking of the overwhelming majority of wonderful Mexican nationals in the United States, but, instead, he’s making a promise to the vilest criminals, such as this rapist/murderer.

May the rest of us not forget the human rights of Mayra Laguna.

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Sharp is an activist in favor of the death penalty. He lives in Houston.