We often think of Cinco de Mayo as the Mexican 4th of July. When it really was the day that the poor Mexican people bettered the rich and powerful French.
After four years of civil war, Mexico owed millions in foreign debt. President Benito Juarez suspended payments of those debts for two years so that they could recover. Napoleon III took advantage and sent almost 6,000 highly trained and well equipped soldiers to secure said debt, yet on May 5th, 1862 the brave, unorganized fighters of Mexico crushed that French Army at The Battle of Puebla, probably yelling Arriba… Up… Onward!
ONE BATTLE against (what was considered) the best army in the world, an army which had not been defeated in almost fifty years. Embarrassed, Napoleon sent in the French Navy, 30,000 more troops who went on to occupy Mexico City but that ONE battle became a symbol of Mexican pride and did a great service to America.
“Service to America?” you ask. “Why was this HUGELY important to the US?”
Because we were devastated by our own Civil War and according to scholars and historians, the French planned to use Mexico as a base to help the Confederates against the Union Soldiers and IF THEY HAD we would live in a very different society today. Mexican guerilla freedom fighters continued to harass the French and in doing so, they thwarted French plans to INVADE our country.
So go out and party, celebrate! Have some tacos, fajitas, a margarita or two, and maybe thank a Mexican person because without their persistence we might be a United States of France.
Feliz Cinco de Mayo!