Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Cinco de Mayo

Many Americans believe that Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican Independence Day. However, Mexico declared it's independence from Spain on midnight, September 15, 1810.

Some Americans might also be surprised to learn that during America's Civil War, France claimed Mexico under the pretext of unpaid loans by Benito Juarez. After the French army invaded Mexico, Napoleon III set up an Austrian prince named Maximilian to rule Mexico. You can still find Mexican coins with Maximilian's portrait. The one above (cast in solid gold) was found on ebay.

The French foreign legion left the port city of Vera Cruz to attack Mexico City to the west. The French assumed that Mexico would surrender once their capital was seized. The Mexican militia totaled 4,000 and the French were estimated to be from 6,500 to 8,000. The date was May 5, 1862 and this battle was fought in Puebla, Mexico which is located 100 miles east of Mexico City.

Colonel Diaz lead the Mexican calvalry out to the flanks of the French. The French sent their calvary off to chase Diaz and his men through stampeding cattle in thick mud. The result was that the French were defeated in a great victory for Mexico. Napoleon III brought in more reinforements and the war lasted longer, but this battle victory brought unity to Mexico.

Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of that battle in Puebla 144 years ago and is also a yearly celebration of Liberty in Mexico. It is celebrated both in Mexico and the United States wherever Mexican-Americans reside. Festivities consisist of parades, music, folklore, dancing, and food. See our Cinco de Mayo book display at the Al Harris Library this week!

Hispanic-Latino Heritage Week at SWOSU is also from May 1-5.

No comments: