The 5th of May i.e. “Cinco de Mayo” is a celebration of a moment in our Mexican history that occurred in the City of Puebla. For those of Mexican ancestry in the United States, “Cinco de Mayo” is a time of remembrance of their heritage of the country of our parents, grandparents or great, great grandparents.
In many municipalities of our Country (USA), “Cinco de Mayo” has become a day for all Americans to savor a taste of what it is to be of Mexican Heritage. “Cinco de Mayo” is celebrated with parades, fiestas, lavish banquets of chilies, tacos, enchiladas, and the savoring delicious plates of Mexican cuisine washed down with mucha cerveza, and being among friends who use the 5th of May to celebrate a Mexican ambiance.
Of course, there is a historical base for the “Cinco de Mayo” celebration. In Mexico just about every day of the year has a reason for being celebrated! Historically it is a celebration in remembrance of the Battle of Puebla, This battle took place between the French and the “rag-tag” army of farmers, Indians, Mestizos, and a sprinkling of Spanish Citizens. Benito Juárez, was México’s President, he wanted to make life better for the peasants (i.e., Indians). But of course the wealthy Mexicans couldn’t permit the peasants to share in the wealth or power of the nation. Benito Juarez, who was an Indian from Oaxaca, was considered a liberal kind of a present day Democrat.
The battle for Puebla was actually the idea of the Marquis de Radepont, French officer and Diplomat for the French Emperor, Louis Napoleon III. The Marquis had this plan to take over all of Mexico. Why did they want Mexico? Well because Eugenie, who was the wife of the French Emperor Napoleon III, had this idea that by taking control of Mexico that then they could control America (the USA) from expanding its Democratic ideologies! It wasn’t enough that Louis Napoleon III ruled much of Europe in 1840-70!
The plot to take over México was centered on the fact that México owed France, England, and Spain, 10 million pesos. France convinced them to join in the overthrow of Benito Juárez. México was in political turmoil and in a modified Democracy. The wealthy landowners were against Juárez and they all thought they would be better off if they turned the country over to the French. The invaders attack México through the Port of Veracruz. The small Mexican Garrison stationed in Veracruz quickly surrendered and gave the $10 million in the treasury to the invaders. Spain and England were happy with that and set sail for Europe.
France, however, got greedy and decided they alone could conquer Mexico and decided to march on Puebla, defeat it and open the doorway to the Capital of Mexico.
On May 5, the French Commander Lorencez sought an easy entrance into Puebla. Unfortunately General Ignacio Zaragoza was waiting for him. 5,000 Mexicans struck against 10,000 French troops and defeated them! For now the Republic of Mexico was safe!