Cinco de Mayo ” After Mexico gained it’s independence from Spain in 1821, it faced internal power struggles that left it in a volatile state of rebellion and instability for years.’ In 1846, the Mexican government, under the dictator Santa Anna, went to war with the United States. As an outcome of that war, Mexico lost a large amount of land — the land we now know as Texas. In 1854, Juan Alvarez and his troops led a successful revolt to drive Santa Anna out of power. One of Alvarez’s strongest supporters was a man by the name of Benito Juarez, a Zapotec Indian leader. In 1855, Juarez became the minister of Justice under the new regime and issued two new controversial laws.
One denied the right of the church and military courts to try civilian cases and the other made the sale and distribution of church lands legal. Many people disagreed with these laws and for three years a civil war raged between the two sides. In 1861 Juarez took control of the capital, Mexico City, and put his new Constitution into effect. Not only had Juarez’s laws split the country, they had caused the civil war that left Juarez in debt to Spain, England, and France. The three countries were concerned about the debt, so they held a meeting in London, at which Spain and Britain decided to waive the debt in exchange for military control of the Custom House in Vera Cruz. France did not agree to these terms and invaded Mexico in 1861 in hopes of defeating the country and disposing of Juarez.
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The French troops — deemed among the best trained and equipped in the world — marched into the city of Puebla on May 5, 1862, expecting no resistance. The French army consisted of 6, 000 men under the command of Marshal Lorenz. The French were met by an armed force of 2, 000 peasants under the command of General Ignacio Zaragoza. The Mexican guerilla forces successfully defended their positions and attacked and drove back the French forces. Victory, however, was short lived.
Within a year, France had successfully conquered Puebla and the rest of Mexico, and went on ruling there until 1867 when Juarez was once again restored to power. He ruled the country until his death in 1872. Cinco de Mayo, therefore, does not celebrate Mexico’s independence, rather it symbolizes ‘the right of the people to self determination and national sovereignty, and the ability of non-Europeans to defend those rights against modern military organizations.’ This important victory of the few over the many is very meaningful to Mexico, a country that had been defeated over and over before. Today, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated by native Mexican and some American people everywhere.
In several towns in Mexico, on the fifth of May, along with many speeches and parades, the Battle of Puebla is elaborately re-enacted in a whole day dramatization. In America, Cinco de Mayo is taken as an opportunity to celebrate Hispanic culture in general, and is celebrated with huge fairs, which include Mexican singing, dancing, feasting, costumes, sports activities, fireworks, and entertainment. Mariachi bands play while dancers perform native Mexican dances such as the Mexican Hat Dance and the Rasp a. Speeches and parades encompass a large part of the celebration too. These events are one way in which people celebrate the friendship of the United States and Mexico. This observance of the Cinco de Mayo victory is a special symbol for all Mexican people who celebrate their rights of freedom and liberty, honoring those who fought, against the odds, for these principles.
Sources Garcia, James. Cinco De Mayo: A Mexican Holiday About Unity and Pride. New York. Summer 2004. 1 April 2005. Viva Cinco de Mayo.
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(TX) Cinco de Mayo. Retrieved 1 April 2005. web de Mayo. UCLA, Cinco de Mayo. web.