Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Battle of Puebla

Cinco de MayoCinco de mayo, a day of celebrations in the United States, but many of my fellow Americans have no idea what they are celebrating, most think it’s the Independence of Mexico but that is not the case. In reality, this day is not celebrated in Mexico as much as it is in the United States, where I think people in an effort to demonstrate their acceptance – and a good excuse to party – celebrate a holiday that is mostly ignored in the Republic of Mexico except in Puebla.

On this day, we drink Margaritas, Tequila and beer. We enjoy barbeques, tacos (texmex) and guacamole. You can ask anyone celebrating what they are celebrating and they will tell you, in a bad Spanish accent and with a huge smile: Cincou de Maio!

Mexico obtained its independence in 1822, after years of bloodshed and many lives lost on both side of the war. After the independence war, Mexico was left financially bankrupted and incapable of paying back the country’s debt to countries such as England, Spain and France. Representatives from those countries arrived at Veracruz to collect on those debts but after some negotiations the representatives from Spain and England returned to their countries. The French however, decided to establish Mexico as a French territory and in 1861 an army of 8,000 French soldiers landed in Veracruz and proceeded to advance towards Mexico City. It was in Puebla where they encountered a formidable resistance from the poorly equipped Mexican army that had only 4,500 men. On May 5th, 1862 the Mexican army won a battle, but they lost the war a year later when the French army conquered Mexico City and Napoleon instated Emperor Maximilian as the ruler of the country. Some historians believe that the interest of the French in Mexico was to attack the United States from the south, since the United States was involved in a civil war. I don’t doubt it, but Mexico was and still is a very rich country.

Today, the great significance and the bravery of those men capable of fighting the greatest army of the time and win, even when they were outnumbered and not as well equipped, has been forgotten by most.

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in the State of Puebla where the battle took place but it’s not celebrated anywhere else in Mexico; however, it is celebrated in the country that is trying to build a wall to keep Mexicans out and where many refer to them in a despotic way by calling them wetbacks. Funny, we love their food, their drinks and even their holidays, but many that celebrate and enjoy those things can’t stand Mexicans, what irony!

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