Mex­ico, struck by its own dis­as­ters, can’t help Texas

Austin American-Statesman - - HURRICANE IRMA - Elisabeth Malkin ©2017 The New York Times

Sorry, we have too many trou­bles of our own.

That was the gist of a mes­sage that Mex­ico’s for­eign re­la­tions min­istry sent Mon­day 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 Thurs­day night, killing 96 peo­ple and dev­as­tat­ing parts of Oax­aca and Chi­a­pas states, and Hur­ri­cane Ka­tia swept ashore early Satur­day, 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 Mon­day night, Sec­re­tary of State Rex 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, had sent 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 Mon­day, 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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