As Hurricane Harvey was still pummeling Houston, Mexico reached out with an offer of help.
In a statement, the country offered food, generators and medical aid “as good neighbors should always do in trying times.” After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the country sent a convoy of soldiers, food and medical workers, along with water-treatment facilities and a kitchen to feed 7,000 people a day.
But now, Mexico says it’s withdrawing its offer of aid. It needs those resources, the government says, to clean up after its own hurricane and a massive earthquake.
In a statement, Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said that all aid will now be directed to families and communities suffering from the pair of natural disasters. At least 95 people were killed in last week’s 8.1 magnitude earthquake off Mexico’s Pacific coast, and thousands of homes were destroyed. And Hurricane Katia made landfall Friday north of Tecolutla on Mexico’s Gulf Coast.
The government estimates that some 2.5 million people are in need of aid, and survivors are still waiting for help in some areas.
“Given these circumstance, the Mexican government will channel all available logistical support to serve the families and communities affected in the national territory,” the foreign ministry statement said.
Mexico’s Foreign Ministry also thanked Texas Gov. Greg Abbott,a Republican who promised to “stand with Mexico and offer whatever aid and assistance we can” after the earthquake. And it expressed “full solidarity” with the victims of Hurricane Irma. “Mexico will be aware of the development of this phenomenon in the following days, and hopes that soon the state of Florida as well as the state of Texas and the state of Louisiana will recover from the damages caused by the hurricanes that have impacted them,” the statement said.
The ministry noted, too, that the United States had taken more than a week to respond to Mexico’s formal offer of aid, and said that only “certain logistical aid” was needed. A White House press aide said that President Donald Trump had talked to the leaders of Canada and Mexico after Harvey, but that they hadn’t discussed specific opportunities for help.
Though the United States and Mexico have historically been close allies, relations have been strained since Trump took office.
In fact, Mexico’s offer of Harvey aid came hours after Trump attacked the country on Twitter, calling it “one of the highest crime nations in the world” and claiming, once again, that Mexico will pay for a border wall. He also threatened to “terminate” NAFTA. Mexico responded to those charges in the same statement it released offering Harvey help, saying that the country won’t be paying for the border wall “under any circumstances.” That same statement also noted that drug trafficking and related crime are a “shared problem.”
Mexicans are also frustrated that Trump has not expressed concern about the Mexican earthquake on Twitter or in a White House release. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson did have a phone call with Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray. “Tillerson offered his condolences for the loss of life and the devastation caused by the earthquake in Mexico and from Hurricane Katia,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told the Los Angeles Times. “He emphasized to Foreign Secretary Videgaray that the U.S. government stands ready to assist our neighbors in Mexico during this difficult time.”