Viva Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo is a yearly celebration held on May 5, commemorating the anniversary of Mexico’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. There’s a popular misconception is that Cinco de Mayo is the Mexican Independence Day. It is not, instead. it commemorates just one single battle.
Benito Juárez was elected president of Mexico, in 1861. At that time, the country was in financial ruin, and the new president was forced to default on debt payments to European governments.
The Battle of Puebla
From his northern headquarters, President Juárez enlisted a ragtag force of 2,000 loyal men and sent them to Puebla. At that time, Puebla de Los Angeles was a small town in east-central Mexico. Meanwhile, the French General Charles Latrille de Lorencez, ordered 6,000 troops to attack Puebla.
On May 5, 1862, French General Lorencez, led his army with heavy artillery on the assault of the city of Puebla. The Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragoza prepared for the French assault with vastly out-numbered and poorly supplied Mexicans. But, this wasn’t a major strategic win in the overall war against the French. More importantly, Zaragoza’s success at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, represented a great symbolic victory for the Mexican government and bolstered the resistance movement.
After the end of the Civil War, the United States was finally in a position to aid its besieged neighbor. As a result, in 1867, and in part to U.S. political pressure and military support, France finally withdrew.
Many people today mistakenly believe that Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican independence. But the Mexican Independence Day was declared more than 50 years before the Battle of Puebla due to the declaration of war against the Spanish colonial government in 1810.
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