Friday, May 05, 2006

Cinco de Mayo

A thirst for information led me to research why this has become such a festive day here in the US. After all the significance of this day could and should be compared to any of the battles that led up to the final battle of the "War between the States" for those of you that are government educated that would be the Civil War.

Before you get to harsh I realize the difference between the two. The Mexican army was trying to prevent an invading French force from occupying Mexico. The French invasion was done with numbers that should've assured victory however the fighting force that stopped the aggresion was ill equipped and not very well trained compared to the French troops. In modern day we only need to look back to the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan to see how some governments can mistake a determined bunch of people.

My question is WHY is this considered a day of festivities here in the U.S.?

Do we as Americans celebrate the following battles

1. Battle of Antietam

2. Battle of Gettysburg

3. Battle of Fredericksburg

4. Battle of Shiloh

No we don't however we as Americans celebrate the quest for and success of our independence from England. Not some battles that led up to the blessed event

Cinco de Mayo is a date of great importance for the Mexican and Chicano communities. It marks the victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla. Althought the Mexican army was eventually defeated, the "Batalla de Puebla" came to represent a symbol of Mexican unity and patriotism. With this victory, Mexico demonstrated to the world that Mexico and all of Latin America were willing to defend themselves of any foreign intervention. Especially those from imperialist states bent on world conquest.

Cinco de Mayo's history has its roots in the French Occupation of Mexico. The French occupation took shape in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War of 1846-48. With this war, Mexico entered a period of national crisis during the 1850's. Years of not only fighting the Americans but also a Civil War, had left Mexico devastated and bankrupt. On July 17, 1861, President Benito Juarez issued a moratorium in which all foreign debt payments would be suspended for a brief period of two years, with the promise that after this period, payments would resume.

The English, Spanish and French refused to allow president Juarez to do this, and instead decided to invade Mexico and get payments by whatever means necessary. The Spanish and English eventually withdrew, but the French refused to leave. Their intention was to create an Empire in Mexico under Napoleon III. Some have argued that the true French occupation was a response to growing American power and to the Monroe Doctrine (America for the Americans). Napoleon III believed that if the United States was allowed to prosper indescriminantly, it would eventually become a power in and of itself.

In 1862, the French army began its advance. Under General Ignacio Zaragoza, 5,000 ill-equipped Mestizo and Zapotec Indians defeated the French army in what came to be known as the "Batalla de Puebla" on the fifth of May.

In the United States, the "Batalla de Puebla" came to be known as simply "5 de Mayo" and unfortunately, many people wrongly equate it with Mexican Independence which was on September 16, 1810, nearly a fifty year difference. Over, the years Cinco de Mayo has become very commercialized and many people see this holiday as a time for fun and dance. Oddly enough, Cinco de Mayo has become more of Chicano holiday than a Mexican one. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on a much larger scale here in the United States than it is in Mexico. People of Mexican descent in the United States celebrate this significant day by having parades, mariachi music, folklorico dancing and other types of festive activities.

There really is no reason why this day should be celebrated here in the U.S. Maybe we should hold a celebration on September 16 which IS the DAY that Mexico achieved independence.

Tom Martz
candidate for the 139th HoR district

VOTE for a true change and someone that won't let personal feelings come between me and the Constitution.

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