Cinco de Mayo

The independence of Mexico is often misunderstood by many Americans. The Cinco de Mayo celebration has grown in some areas of the US into a much larger celebration than is found in most of Mexico, outside of Puebla.

On May 5th, 1862, General Lorencez, Napolean’s lead general, attempted to take Puebla, after successfully invading Veracruz, but the steep terrain and a torrential downpour made an easy defense for the Mexican army shooting downhill at the French Army.

Napolean III of France’s goal was not only to force Mexico to pay its financial debt but to extend his territory in North America and ultimately support the Confederate States of America. The modern day USA could be very different had Napolean III been successful in supporting the Confederate States of America.

The Cinco de Mayo celebrates the initial defeat of Napolean III of France when he attempted to conquer Mexico under the guise that it was to force Mexico to pay its debts. These debts could not be paid by Presidente Benito Juarez and the Mexican government after its three year civil war. In June, 1864, Napolean invaded Mexico at Veracruz.

Texas born General Ignacio Zaragoza led 5,000 Zapotec Indians and mestizos to defeat the French at the Battalla de Puebla. The victory was short lived and then the French army, upon entering Mexico City, placed Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian as Emperor of Mexico.

Maximilian’s reign was short lived and finding his army of 7,000 surrounded by 40,000 Mexicans, Maximilian was captured and shot by firing squad on June 19, 1867 in Queretaro. Maximillians shirt full of bullet holes can be seen at the Castillo de Chapultapec Museum.

In many ways it is fitting that Americans celebrate the Cinco since its outcome potentially had a drastic effect upon its own future. To this very day the stories of the Princess Carlota’s arrival at Sisal, Yucatan and her trip to Merida continues to be told.

Mexico’s true date of independence from Spain is on September 16 and occurred in 1810.

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