Perry defies Obama to execute Mexican
Humberto Leal Garcia is latest to be executed in Texas during the reign of Republican favourite
Texas governor Rick Perry, who could find himself running against Barack Obama in next year's US presidential race, has shown that he is not easily cowed by his rival. Perry ignored the pleas of Obama and others, including George W Bush, and went ahead with the execution of a Mexican who raped and killed a 16-year-old girl.
Humberto Leal Garcia was executed by lethal injection last night despite the appeals of diplomats, politicians, judges, senior military figures and even the UN amid claims that the punishment could do "irreparable harm" to America's relations with Mexico, endanger the lives of its citizens and was in violation of international law.
Leal was sentenced to death after he was convicted of raping and killing 16-year-old Adria Sauceda with a lump of asphalt after they left a party together in San Antonio in 1994.
Although there was little doubt about his guilt, Leal's lawyers said that after his arrest Texas police did not tell the Mexican national that he was entitled to contact his country's consulate, which was his right under the Vienna Convention.
However, the US Supreme Court voted 5-4 to allow the execution to go ahead, against the wishes of the White House, and Perry was happy to allow the sentence to be carried out.
Perry, who came second behind Ron Paul in a poll of possible Republican presidential candidates this week, is a keen advocate of the death penalty. In the ten-and-a-half years since he took over as governor from George W Bush, more than 200 people have been executed, and he has overseen more deaths than any other governor in US history.
His hardline stance plays well with the American right and the Tea Party in particular, who are desperate for him to run in 2012. And the former US Air Force pilot, who carries his own pistol with a laser sight when he goes jogging, has the kind of rhetoric they like.
Not only is he an enthusiastic supporter of the death penalty he is also anti-abortion and gay marriage and last year told a Tea Party rally that he wanted Texas to secede from the Union if President Obama fulfilled his "burning desire" to turn America into a socialist state. ·
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