White House officials dismiss death case rift

Mexico’s Fox cancels visit with Bush
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Aug. 16, 2002
Amy Schatz – Cox Washington Bureau

Washington — The White House said Thursday that Mexican President Vicente Fox’s snub over the execution of a Mexican national has not harmed relations between the two nations.

In protest Wednesday, Fox canceled a two-day visit to President Bush’s Crawford ranch.

“President Bush and President Fox share a strong professional relationship, as well as a friendship that represents the deep bonds of our two countries,” White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said Thursday. “And the president very much looks forward to his next meeting with President Fox.”

The White House acknowledged that the two leaders have no meetings planned. The two presidents might not meet again until late October, when Mexico is set to host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders meeting. Bush is expected to attend.

The Bush administration’s refusal to intervene in the case of Javier Suarez Medina, a Mexican national convicted in 1988 for killing a Dallas police officer, is the latest example of how the U.S. position on the death penalty has put it at odds with other developed nations.

Since Sept. 11, European allies have been increasingly resistant to extradite suspects to the United States and provide information on terrorist activities, because of America’s death penalty.

Spain has refused to turn over eight suspected al-Qaida members because federal authorities have not provided those assurances. Germany has resisted providing information on Sept. 11 suspect Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen. French authorities have protested the U.S. decision to seek death for Moussaoui, and Britain has indicated that it might not turn over Osama bin Laden if its troops find him first.

The European Union’s 15 nations oppose the death penalty and refuse to extradite suspects without assurances they will not face the death penalty. They also refuse to provide information on suspects without the same guarantee.

Tension between the U.S. and its allies over the death penalty is likely to get worse as federal prosecutors continue the U.S. war on terrorism.

As many as 56 Mexicans are on death row in the United States, mostly in Texas, according to Human Rights Research, an anti-death penalty group. Other countries, including Germany, also have complained and are fighting death row convictions of their citizens.

“It’s a treaty obligation,” said Morton Halperin, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, an international think tank. “If we don’t meet ours, other countries might not meet their obligations as well when Americans are arrested.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday August 16, 2002.
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