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Mexico pulls Texas aid after being hit by own disasters

  • NEW YORK TIMES

    Military personnel help residents clean up after a major earthquake in Asunción Ixtaltepec, in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, on Sept. 10. After Mexico’s strongest earthquake in living memory struck on Sept. 7, killing 96 people, and Hurricane Katia swept ashore early on Sept. 9, the country withdrew its offer to aid Texas with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, with the foreign ministry said all help was needed at home.

MEXICO CITY >> Sorry, we have too many troubles of our own.

That was the gist of a message that Mexico’s foreign relations ministry sent Sept. 11 in announcing that it had no choice but to withdraw the help it had offered to Texas to deal with the flooding left by Hurricane Harvey.

After Mexico’s strongest earthquake in living memory struck Sept. 7, killing 96 people and devastating parts of Oaxaca and Chiapas states, and Hurricane Katia swept ashore early Sept. 9, causing mudslides and flooding, the foreign ministry said all help was needed at home.

The ministry also noted that shelters in Houston were beginning to close and said that after talking with Texas officials, it was clear that the state’s need for help had diminished.

But it has also been widely noted in Mexico that President Donald Trump did not send condolences after the earthquake.

The announcement by Mexico that it was withdrawing its offer to help Texas must have caught someone’s attention in Washington. On Sept. 11, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson picked up the phone — four days after the earthquake — to offer condolences and assistance to Mexico’s foreign minister, Luis Videgaray.

(Hours after the quake, the U.S. ambassador in Mexico City, Roberta Jacobson, did send prayers to affected families on Twitter, and Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas did likewise.)

Mexico, which sent brigades to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, first offered to send help to Texas on Aug. 27, when Videgaray spoke to Abbott by telephone, the foreign ministry said. The ministry followed up the next day with a list of what it could offer, including food, soldiers, medicine and water. On Sept. 6, Texas officials said they would accept logistical help.

In its note, the Mexican foreign ministry thanked Abbott for his words of solidarity after the earthquake and offered its support for Florida, which is reeling from the effects of Hurricane Irma.

Mexico “deeply hopes that very soon, the state of Florida, as well as the states of Texas and Louisiana, manage to recover from the damage caused by the hurricanes that have struck them,” the ministry said.

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