Mexico on Monday withdrew its offer of aid to the United States to help victims of Hurricane Harvey, saying those resources are now needed at home as Mexico recovers from a separate hurricane and a devastating earthquake.
Last month, as Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston with days of record-breaking rains, Mexico issued a statement offering to send food, generators and medical aid to Texas “as good neighbors should always do in trying times.”
Mexico offered help even as President Trump was attacking the country on Twitter, calling Mexico “one of the highest crime nations in the world” and reiterating his claim that Mexico will pay for construction of a border wall between the two nations.
While Trump never responded to Mexico’s offer, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said his state would accept the country’s aid.
In a statement released Monday, Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said that aid is now being redirected to care for Mexican families and communities still reeling from the recent one-two punch of natural disasters that struck the nation.
At least 95 people died in Thursday’s magnitude 8.1 earthquake, according to the Foreign Ministry, most of them in the southern Mexican states of Oaxaca and Chiapas. While aid has arrived in many of the hardest-hit regions, where thousands of homes were reduced to rubble, local media have reported that in some places, survivors are still waiting for help.
While authorities scrambled to dig victims from rubble and provide shelter to the homeless on Mexico’s southwestern coast, a Category 1 hurricane struck Mexico’s Gulf Coast on Saturday. At least two people were killed by Hurricane Katia, which was downgraded to a tropical storm shortly after making landfall, officials said.
Trump did not offer condolences to Mexico after either disaster, as is common when tragedies befall U.S. allies, even as multiple American mayors and governors offered their sympathies and help. Nor did Trump offer U.S. aid to Mexico.
Trump’s silence as the earthquake death toll climbed was widely seen here as another sign of Trump’s cool attitude toward Mexico.
While Mexico is a major U.S. trading partner and has for decades been a steadfast ally, Trump has blamed Mexico for sending drugs and criminals into the U.S. and for stealing American jobs. Negotiators from the U.S., Mexico and Canada are locked in a tense renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the landmark trade deal Trump has threatened to scrap if he does’t win major concessions from Mexico.
In its statement about rescinding aid on Monday, Mexico’s Foreign Ministry made a special point to thank Abbott, who after the earthquake pledged to “stand with Mexico and offer whatever aid and assistance we can to help them recover after this disaster.”
The Foreign Ministry also expressed the Mexican government’s “full solidarity with the state of Florida in the face of the severe impact 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.
Several hours later, Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray received a phone call. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was on the line.
“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 said. “He emphasized to Foreign Secretary Videgaray that the U.S. government stands ready to assist our neighbors in Mexico during this difficult time.”
8:37 p.m.: This article was updated with a statement from the U.S. Department of State
This article was originally published at 5:10 p.m.