Cinco de Mayo,
Grito de Dolores honors Mexican independence.
Cinco de Mayo proves she deserves it.
Yet Mexico’s future was uncertain concurrent the American Civil War. In 1861, France peered across the Atlantic and saw a distraction. Hitherto, Mexico owed several backers large interest sums.
France would make her pay by force! But there was an ulterior motive.
A Tale of Two Presidents
President Lincoln understood that a Mexican alliance was pivotal to Union victory. Mexico’s President Benito Juarez was happy to oblige – European puppet governments were legitimate concerns. United States policy discouraged European nations from intervening.
Conversely, France’s Emperor Napoleon III would profit from Confederate victory. Union occupation halted French trade. Without Union policy holding them back, France was free to engage Mexico.
A True Underdog Story
And it did, despite standing policy. Lincoln’s Union was pre-occupied and could not intervene. French military covered Mexico like a plague. There were two French soldiers for every one Mexican! Mexico City was destined to fall, but not before one of the biggest upsets in military history.
On May 5th, under General Zaragoza’s command, Mexico’s army repelled France at ‘Puebla’.
Word travelled internationally. The improbable victory emboldened Mexican’s home and abroad.
The Fight for Freedom
Continued resistance made France’s endeavour fruitless. America, eventually reunited, pressured France into relinquishing control. Napoleon III’s puppet emperor was executed and President Juarez returned to power.
Cinco de Mayo (“Five of May”) remembers Mexico’s struggle and acknowledges her spirit.
Celebrating at the Turn of the Century
Cinco de Mayo enjoyed renewed American interest following the 1960’s. Today, Cinco de Mayo ceremonies are held in every state. In fact, General Zaragoza’s birthplace, Goliad, Texas, is the official celebration location.
Puebla, however, still boasts being Cinco de Mayo’s largest celebratory location. Participants re-enact the conflict between Mexican and French soldiers.
(We hate to ruin a surprise, but Mexico always wins.)
Food, song, and dance proceed. Color floats and piñatas adorn Puebla’s streets. Adult and child alike scarf down plate after plate of Mole Poblano. Ingredients like chili pepper and chocolate make a unique juxtaposition for your palate. Tequila is, naturally, imbibed liberally.
In recent years, focus has been placed on international music plus traditional Mexican artists.
United we Stand
Benito Juarez remarked that Mexico would be wise to imitate her neighbour’s democratic principles. Lincoln and Juarez had mutual affection, despite never meeting. Cinco de Mayo reminds all nations that freedom is worth striving for.