Friday, April 28, 2006

HOLIDAY: Cinco De Mayo is Friday, May 5

Cinco De Mayo, The Fifth of May, commemorates the Mexican militia’s victory over the French army at The Battle of Puebla in 1862.

The Battle of Puebla, although it did not establish Mexico’s Independence, it stood to symbolize Mexican unity and patriotism especially against foreign imperialist aggression. Prior to then Mexico had experienced years of war, gaining independence from Spain in 1821, followed by the Mexican-American War of 1846-48 and the Mexican Civil War of 1858, which left Mexico bankrupt and in shambles. In 1861, President Benito Jaurez tried to suspend payment of all foreign debt for a period of two years. However, France, Spain and England denied this moratorium and decided to try to recoup their monies by any means possible. Spain and England eventually withdrew their efforts once they realized that France was set on their objective of expanding their empire under Napolean III who feared that if they did not control Mexico then America would and become too strong. In 1862, the French Army advanced on Mexico in order to try and install Archduke Maximilian of Austria, a relative of Napolean III, as the ruler. General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin lead 5,000 Zapotec and Mestizo Indians against the French, who had a well-armed army of 6,500, and they won the now famous Battle of the Puebla on May 5. However, upon hearing the news of this defeat, Napolean III, sent 30,000 troops to squash any further defeats. Mexican Independence was not achieved until September 16, 1810. In Mexico, Cinco De Mayo is mostly celebrated in the city and state of Puebla. However, it is a large celebration in the United States especially in regions in which the Mexican population is significant.

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