Mexican Troops Enter U.S. to Bring Aid
And you thought no one cared
ASSOCIATED PRESS | September 09, 2005
SAN ANTONIO, Texas - A Mexican army convoy of nearly 200 people crossed the border into the United States on Thursday to bring aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina, becoming the first Mexican military unit to operate on U.S. soil since 1846.
Mexico's first disaster aid mission to the United States was greeted in San Antonio by honking car horns, welcome signs and cheering people wrapped in or waving Mexican flags.
"San Antonio is probably the most Mexican city in the entire United States," councilman Richard Perez said. Of the city's 1.2 million residents, roughly 500,000 identify themselves as being of Mexican descent, according to the U.S. Census.
Earlier, dignitaries from both Mexico and the United States greeted the soldiers at the Laredo border crossing.
The unarmed soldiers, physicians, nurses and dentists aboard the convoy wore green uniforms with yellow armbands that said "Humanitarian Aid" in Spanish.
Daniel Hernandez Joseph, the Mexican consul in Laredo, said the cooperation was understandable since the United States has helped Mexico following natural disasters, including the Mexico City's earthquake in 1985.
"We know what it is like to be on the other side of this, because of that we are saying thank you by responding in kind," he said.
The convoy includes two mobile kitchens that can feed 7,000 people a day, three flatbed trucks carrying mobile water treatment plants and 15 trailers of bottled water, blankets and applesauce.
After the convoy entered the former Kelly Air Force base, soldiers began setting up the kitchen to feed about 500 people Thursday night.
The Mexican government already was planning another 12-vehicle aid convoy for this week. It has sent a Mexican navy ship toward the Mississippi coast with rescue vehicles and helicopters.
Mexico has sent disaster relief aid missions to other Latin American nations, but not to the United States.
In 1846, Mexican troops briefly advanced just north of the Rio Grande in Texas, which had then recently joined the United States. Mexico, however, did not then recognize the Rio Grande as the U.S. border.
The two countries quickly became mired in the Mexican-American War, which led to the loss of half of Mexico's territory in 1848.