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Los Angeles – Baghdad West?
On April 5, at the invitation of the Los Angeles District Attorney's office, I spent the afternoon at the 3rd Annual Victims' Rights Vigil & Community Information Fair.[PDF flier] The Fair's goal is to help residents deal with the more than 600 gang related killings that occurred in LA in 2002.
Several hundred people gathered at the Dolores Mission School to hear Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley and Sheriff Lee Baca, among other others, address the pain and frustration of coping with soaring violence in Los Angeles.
Three parents who lost their children - a father and two mothers - spoke.
Brenda Florence, the mother of three sons all killed on the same day, told the audience that "I really don't live; I just function."
When Jack Morales spoke, he pointed to a large photograph of his son Steven in a Cleveland Indians baseball cap. Steven was shot and killed by gang members while playing baseball close to his home. Morales said, "The bullet didn't just kill him. It went through all of us."
One of the killers, charged with one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder, has since fled to Mexico.
"It tears me up," Morales continued, "to know that my son's killer is living without a care in Mexico."
Sheriff Baca, speaking about Los Angeles County Deputy David March's murder one year ago by illegal alien Armando Garcia - three times deported - could barely contain his fury at the Mexican government.
Baca, a Mexican-American, said he had nothing but "outrage for the policies of Mexico for harboring the killers of 60 Americans."
"Mexico has not done one single thing to get these criminals back to the U.S. There is no 'substitute justice,'" concluded Baca, referring to Mexico's insistence on trying Mexican nationals in its own courts for crimes committed on U.S. soil.
For more than a year, the L.A. District Attorney's office has leaned on the Department of Justice and the Department of State to intercede diplomatically in extradition cases.
On September 19, 2002 California Senator Barbara Boxer of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee asked the State Department if Mexico's refusal to extradite criminals is "the beginning of a larger trend" of countries which might also request assurances that life imprisonment sentences will not be imposed.
The State Department's reply indicated that only with Mexico has the "United States experienced a severe impact on our ability to secure the surrender of our most serious criminal offenders."
The balance of the State Department response to Boxer spun off into never-never land:
"The DOJ has corresponded with Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley….we will continue to work with D.A. Cooley's office….we will continue to raise assurances with the Government of Mexico….we will raise the issue again at a meeting of senior U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officials at the end of October."
In other words: forget it.
Mexico is not going to change its laws or cooperate in any way with the U.S. - no matter how many American police officers may get killed.
A diplomatic approach must carry President George W. Bush's blessing. And Bush has been either too much in love with Mexico (his obsession with amnesty) to "risk" asking for justice - or too bent out of shape (no support from Mexico for his invasion of Iraq) to pick up the phone.
While the Morales and March families wait for some sign of support from Washington, Mexico has the unmitigated gall to criticize the U.S. because 51 Mexican nationals are on death row. This strategy is an extension of Mexico's successful appeal to the United Nation's International Court of Justice to delay three death sentences involving Mexicans.
In an April 6 Los Angeles Times story by Richard A. Serrano titled "A Deadly Serious Border Dispute," Mexican officials, citing the very predictable and incredibly tedious "rights" issue, demand that the death sentence for all 51 prisoners be commuted.
Here from the LA Times story are three staggering quotes commenting on Mexico's perception of the U.S. justice system:
- "I would not say officially it is racism. [Joe G. Note: How big of you!] But there is a consistent pattern of discrimination from juries, from courts and from prosecutors who are generally biased against Hispanics. And that of course makes Mexicans all the more vulnerable than they already are as foreigners" [Juan Manuel Gomez-Robledo, Mexican Foreign Ministry]
- "We are struggling against the death penalty for our countrymen in the U.S. We are fighting a battle and we are going to win, step by step, to prevent our nationals from being executed and, above all, from having their legal and human rights violated." [Mexican President Vicente Fox]
- "There has always been a sense in Mexico that Mexicans are treated unfairly in our judicial system." [Sandra Babcock, Minneapolis, representing the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program]
According to Gomez-Robledo, "respect for life is too important" for the U.S. to enforce the death penalty.
Mexico grandstands about the value of human life. But it callously disregards the lives of Steven Morales, Deputy March and many other innocent American victims.
Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.