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Cinco de Mayo


The Battle of Puebla

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Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on May the 5th.

Cinco de Mayo marks the victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla. Although the Mexican army was eventually defeated, the "Batalla de Puebla" came to represent a symbol of Mexican unity and patriotism. With this victory, Mexico demonstrated to the world that they were willing to defend themselves from any foreign intervention.

Cinco de Mayo's history has its roots in the French Occupation of Mexico. The French occupation took shape in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War of 1846-48. With this war, Mexico entered a period of national crisis during the 1850's. Years of not only fighting the Americans but also a Civil War had left Mexico devastated and bankrupt. On July 17, 1861, President Benito Juarez issued a moratorium in which all foreign debt payments would be suspended for a brief period of two years, with the promise that after this period, payments would resume.

The English, Spanish and French refused to allow president Juarez to do this, and instead decided to invade Mexico and get payments by whatever means necessary. The Spanish and English eventually withdrew, but the French refused to leave. Their intention was to create an Empire in Mexico under Napoleon III. Some have argued that the true French occupation was a response to growing American power and to the Monroe Doctrine (America for the Americans). Napoleon III believed that if the United States was allowed to prosper indiscriminately, it would eventually become a power in and of itself.

In 1862, the French army began its advance. Under General Ignacio Zaragoza, 5,000 ill-equipped Mestizo and Zapotec Indians defeated the French army in what came to be known as the "Batalla de Puebla" on the fifth of May.

In the United States, many people wrongly equate Cinco de Mayo with Mexican Independence which was on September 16, 1810. Over the years it has become very commercialized and many people see this holiday as a time for fun and dance. Celebrations in the United States are often larger and more elaborate than commemorations of the day in Mexico. The holiday is a celebration of Mexican culture, including food, music, beverages and customs unique to Mexico. People of Mexican heritage in the United States celebrate this significant day by having parades, mariachi music, dancing and other types of festive activities.






Cinco de Mayo Shows the Americanization of a Mexican Holiday (From the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Information Programs)


Cinco de Mayo - Historical Background of Cinco de Mayo by Mexico Online.


Cinco de mayo de 1862 - La Batalla de Puebla


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