In late August 2017, after Harvey slammed into Texas as a category 4 hurricane, dumping a record amount of rain onto the region and causing catastrophic flooding, the Mexican government offered to help relief efforts in Texas.
On 30 August 2017, both Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and the U.S. State Department said that they would take Mexico up on its offer. Abbott told media outlets:
We had a list of aid and assistance that they have offered to provide that we are accepting.
The State Department posted footage of remarks by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after meeting with Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Luis Videgaray Caso. Tillerson said:
I want to thank the Mexican government for its offer of assistance to the state of Texas. They have offered a wide range of assistance, coordinating with the governor down in Texas and also through FEMA. It was very generous of Mexico to offer their help at a very, very challenging time for our citizens back in Texas and now moving toward the border with Louisiana as we’re watching.
You’re absolutely welcome. We are here to help. We are friends. We are neighbors. We are friends, and that’s what friends do.
However, on 11 September 2017, his department said in a statement that the Mexican government would not be able to provide assistance, on account of the damage done in the country by an earthquake measuring 8.2 four days earlier.
The quake caused damage in three states, killed 95 people and injuring hundreds more. According to the statement:
Under these circumstances, the Mexican government will channel all available logistical support toward helping the families and communities affected in the country, which is why the government in Texas and the U.S. federal government have been informed that, unfortunately, at this time it will not be possible to provide the help originally offered to Texas to help with the damages caused by hurricane Harvey at the end of August.
Videgaray first announced his country’s intention to help in two Twitter posts on 27 August 2017. He posted in Spanish and in English:
I just spoke to Gov. @GregAbbott_TX. We will provide all the help we can. Our full solidarity with the people of Texas. #HurricaneHarvey
He also stated that he spoke to Abbott, adding in Spanish, “We will identify specific aid that we can provide.”
Videgaray’s department reiterated its offer in a statement that also criticized U.S. President Donald Trump for continuing to insist on his Twitter account that Mexico would pay for the construction of a “wall” between the two countries:
Mexico will not negotiate NAFTA, nor any other aspect of the bilateral relationship, through social media or any other news platform.
The Mexican government takes this opportunity to express its full solidarity with the people and government of the United States as a result of the damages caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas, and expresses that it has offered to provide help and cooperation to the US government in order to deal with the impact of this natural disaster —as good neighbors should always do in trying times.
Undersecretary for North America Carlos Manuel Sada Solana also said that Abbott was contacted directly and “immediately accepted” Mexico’s offer of assistance, though Abbott did not initially confirm that.
According to Sada, Abbott had agreed to send a list to his government detailing the aid they will need:
I got the impression that the governor is also evaluating how Mexico’s help can be more efficient and more useful.
Mexican consulate officials had reportedly been in contact with Abbott’s office regarding Mexico’s offer and said that the country was prepared to offer “a Katrina-like assistance package.”
In 2005, Mexico sent 200 troops and 45 military vehicles to Texas to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. Their efforts resulted in the distribution of more than 184,000 tons of supplies, as well as hundreds of medical consultations and a reported 170,000 prepared meals. Mexico also sent aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy, and regularly sends a crew of bomberos — considered among the best in the world — to provide aid fighting major wildfires and to help with environmental concerns.
Attempts to contact Francisco de la Torre Galindo, the Mexican consul in Dallas, were unsuccessful. We also contacted Abbott’s office and the State Department, but have yet to receive a response.