Cinco de mayo de 1862 –
La Batalla de Puebla.
¡Viva México! ¡Viva Juárez! Viva el 5 de mayo!
The 5th of May is celebrated in the United States among the Mexican-American population, especially in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Various Mexican-American societies use the celebrations to commemorate the overthrow of the Mexican Imperial Monarchy headed by Maximilian of Austria.The Imperial Monarchy was imposed from 1864 to 1867 on Mexico by Napoleon III, Emperor of France (nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte) and the Mexican conservatives "Club de Notables".
The Mexican-American societies were formed after the Mexican-American war (1846-1848) in response to atrocities committed by US. troops occupying the lands annexed by the US. following the war. The war was settled by theTreaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo with fifteen million dollars in payment for the annexed lands. The societies originally consisted of home guard units but evolved into social societies as stability returned to the US Southwest. These societies contributed large amounts of material and money to the Mexican Constitutional Government in its fight against the Mexican Imperial Monarchy.
In 1858, BenitoJuárez was elected President of the United States of Mexico to defend the Mexican Constitution established on February 5th, 1857. After much internal struggle, Juárez was re-elected in 1861. Because of financial instability, mainly due to the Mexican-American war, the Mexican Congress suspended foreign debt repayment for two years.
The creditors in Europe (England, Spain and France) decidedintervention was needed to collect the debts. Unbeknownst to the other two, France had its own agenda. France wanted to dispose of the Mexican Constitutional Government and set up a monarchy favorable to France. Napoleon III, Emperor of the Second French Empire had grandiose plans to impose a monarchical government upon the nations of Central and South America. This was to provide raw materials and tradefor the European nations as well as check the growing power of the US Republic following the annexation of California, Arizona and New Mexico.
France's designs were formented and abetted by the plutocratic and conservative land owners of Mexico who feared loss of land and political power to the newly elected constitutional government of Benito Juárez. On December 8th, 1861 the European powerslanded and occupied Veracruz, Spain arrived first. By April 11, 1862 after realizing France's intent, England and Spain withdrew their support.
Meanwhile, in Mexico City, President Juárez (a full blooded Zapotec Indian, and a lawyer who had studied to become a priest), was taking countermeasures: "There is no help but in defense but I can assure you... the Imperial Government will not succeed insubduing the Mexicans, and its armies will not have a single day of peace... we must stop them, not only for our country but for the respect of the sovereignty of the nations"(1). Juarez declared martial law and declared all areas occupied by the French in a state of siege.
After reinforcements arrived, a French force of (7,000) seven thousand set out on the (225) two hundred twenty five mile route toMexico City in early April under the illusion that the Mexican people would welcome them. This illusion was fostered by Juan N. Almonte, a Mexican reactionary, and by Count Dubois du Saligny appointed French Ambassador to Mexico by Napoleon. Presidente Juárez commanded General Ignacio Zaragoza to block the advance of the French Army with 2,000 soldiers at the fortified hills of Loreto andGuadalupe by the city of Puebla.
On May 5th, 1862, cannons boomed and rifle shots rang out as the French soldiers attacked the two forts. Before the day was over, one fort was in ruins and more than a thousand French soldiers were dead. The Mexicans had won the battle, but not the war. Yet, this date was established as symbolic of the Mexicans' courage against a formidable army.
In June 1864,...
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