Huatulco Life was inspired by people with a passion for Huatulco and the Mexican lifestyle. It is a place to find out more information about the region and enjoy the beauty of the Oaxacan coastline through the photo gallery. From time to time, other interesting tidbits about Mexico make their way into the pages of this blog. Enjoy!

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo, or the 5th of May is an official civic holiday in Mexico that celebrates the Mexican Army's unlikely defeat over the French forces in the Battle of Puebla.

Many people confuse this day with the Mexican independance.  Cinco de Mayo has a somewhat limited significance in Mexico and celebrations occur mainly in Puebla.

In the United States, Cinco de Mayo celebrations occur mostly to recognize Mexican heritage and pride.  Mexicans and Latinos living in California during the American Civil War are credited with being the first to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the United States.

Cinco de Mayo has its roots in the French occupation in Mexico. The French occupation took place in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, the Mexican Civil War of 1858, and the 1860 Reform Wars.  In response, France, Britain, and Spain sent naval forces to Veracruz to demand reimbursement. Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew, but France, at the time ruled by Napoleon III, decided to use the opportunity to establish a Latin empire in Mexico that would favor French interests, the Second Mexican Empire.

Late in 1861, a well-armed French fleet stormed Veracruz, landing a large French force and driving President Juárez and his government into retreat.  Moving on from Veracruz towards Mexico City, the French army encountered heavy resistance from the Mexicans near Puebla, at the Mexican forts of Loreto and Guadalupe.  The 8,000 strong French army attacked the much poorer equipped Mexican army of 4,000. Yet the Mexicans managed to decisively crush the French army, the best army at the time, and one that had not been defeated for almost 50 years.

The victory was short lived as only one year later, the French forces returned and defeated the Mexican army, capturing Mexico City and establishing rule of this key center.  However, 3 years following the French occupation, the United States was able to provide support to the Mexican military and expel the French.  The eventual victory over the French is hugely significant as since the Battle of Puebla, no country in the Americas has been invaded by European military forces.

There are many historians that believe if Mexico had not defeated the French in Puebla on May 5, 1862, France would have gone to the aid of the South in the U.S. Civil War and the United States' destiny could have been very different.

On June 7, 2005, the U.S. Congress issued a Concurrent Resolution calling on the President of the United States to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe Cinco de Mayo with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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