Saturday, May 05, 2007

Cinco de Mayo: Celebration of kicking a French bill collector's ass

Long or Short Capital gives some historical detail on Cinco de Mayo that's generally lacking from most descriptions (with a little bit of exaggeration and humor). It's not a celebration of Mexican independence, but of a successful victory by Mexican forces led by General Ignacio Zaragozea Seguin against French occupation forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

The Mexican government owed money to the English, the Spanish, and the French, and was late on debt payments. All three creditors sent armed representatives to Mexico. The English and Spanish were successfully negotiated with, but the French decided to obtain repayment by taking possession of Mexico, and sent a large military force. General Zaragoza led a force of Mexicans and Indians and were victorious.

2 comments:

teal4two said...

Hmmm, I was unaware of the financial aspect. I did learn somewhere that Maximilian was installed by the French as Emperor. I also didn't realize this battle was so early on relative to final defeat. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximilian_I_of_Mexico

Jim Lippard said...

I recently (a few months ago) saw the movie "Juarez" (1939) which covers this period of Mexican history, and recommend it.

You're right--this battle took place in 1862, an initial victory that was followed by setbacks for Juarez's forces in 1863, pushing them to the north. Maximilian was installed in 1864 and didn't ultimately fall until early 1867.