is a cultural phenomenon in the United States. ItБs a time to celebrate
culture and, for some, an opportunity to drink a lot of margaritas and cerveza. But it is also a frequently misunderstood holiday. For those out of the loop, hereБs a refresher on what Cinco de Mayo is all about. What exactly is Cinco de Mayo? People often mistake Cinco de Mayo for a celebration of Mexican independence. But theyБre wrong. The holiday celebrates a failed French invasion after a fledgling Mexican state defaulted on debt payments to European governments. In 1861 Mexico was suffering from financial ruin following years of internal strife. This was exploited by the French President Napoleon III, who thought it would beб a fantastic time to try and build an empire there. Mexico had defaulted on debts with Britain and Spain as well, but those two countries negotiated with the country and withdrew their navy. The French invaded Mexico in late 1861 with well-armed forces and stormed Veracruz, forcing the Mexican government and its forces to retreat into northern Mexico. Confident of further victories, French forces focused their attention on the city Puebla de Los Angeles. Anticipating the attack, Mexican President Benito Juцrez brought together a group of 2,000 men to fight back, many of whom were indigenous Mexicans or of mixed ancestry.
When the French finally attacked, on May 5, 1862, the battle lasted from daybreak to early evening. The French ended up retreating after losing almost 500 soldiers. The Mexicans lost fewer than 100. Was the battle significant? Strategically, not really. The battle represented more of a symbolic victory for the Mexican forces and added to the resistance. French forces didnБt leave until 1867 after years of fighting. Mexicans were helped in part by the end of the Civil War, when the US was able to send their own troops to help out their besieged neighbour. So all of Mexico celebrates Cinco de Mayo, right? Nope. People in Pueblaб celebrate, as that\’s where the unlikely victory occurred, but the festivities aren\’t nationwide. Cinco de Mayo isnБt a federal holiday so the day is just like any other day for most people in Mexico. When does Mexico celebrate its independence? Mexico celebrates its independence on September 16. On that day in 1810, Mexican revolutionary priest Miguel Hidalgo y Castilla made a famous call to arms for his fellow men and women to resist Spanish colonial government. б Why is it celebrated in the United States? The holiday is widely seen as a celebration of Mexican cultural heritage for America\’s growing Hispanic population. Latino activists raised awareness for the holiday in the 1960s.
In large part, those early holidays in the US were a forum to celebrate the fact that a group of ragtag indigenous people were able to successfully hold back French forces. The holiday has really taken off in the US since then and people today celebrate with parades, parties, mariachi music, and traditional Mexican foods. Is Cinco de Mayo particularly significant this year? Donald TrumpБs election has bred some uncertainty and fear amongst some people of Mexican heritage in the United States. Mr Trump has favoured anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric, including a promise to deport all undocumented immigrants in the country and build a wall on the border with Mexico to keep people out. Last yearб Mr Trump tweeted out a photo of him eating a taco bowl (which is not a traditional Mexican dish) on Cinco de Mayo with the statementб БI love HispanicsБ. б Butб Mexican-Americans arenБt necessarily encouraged by that tweet or the presidentБs actual positions since, and some have said they are fearful of celebrating Cinco de Mayo this year because Mr Trump has stepped up immigration enforcement since taking office. Certain that success would come swiftly, 6,000 French troops under General Charles Latrille de Lorencez set out to attack de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico. From his new headquarters in the north, Juцrez rounded up a ragtag force of 2,000 loyal menБmany of them either indigenous Mexicans or of mixed ancestryБand sent them to Puebla.
The vastly outnumbered and poorly supplied Mexicans, led by Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragoza, fortified the town and prepared for the French assault. On May 5, 1862, Lorencez gathered his armyБsupported by heavy artilleryБbefore the city of Puebla and led an assault. The battle lasted from daybreak to early evening, and when the French finally retreated they had lost nearly 500 soldiers. Fewer than 100 Mexicans had been killed in the clash. Although not a major strategic win in the overall war against the French, ZaragozaБs success at the on May 5 represented a great symbolic victory for the Mexican government and bolstered the resistance movement. In 1867Бthanks in part to military support and political pressure from the United States, which was finally in a position to aid its besieged neighbor after the end of the БFrance finally withdrew. The same year, Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, who had been installed as emperor of Mexico in 1864 by Napoleon, was captured and executed by JuцrezБs forces. Puebla de Los Angeles was renamed for General Zaragoza, who died of typhoid fever months after his historic triumph there.