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Why is Cinco de Mayo Celebrated in the U.S. more than in Mexico?

  • Joel CZ 
  • 5 min read
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Cinco de mayo, or May 5th, marks a historical and important date for Mexicans because it was a victorious event against a foreign country.

Today, I will tell you important facts about the famous “Battle of Puebla” celebrated on May 5th.

However, this commemoration also takes place in the United States with more parties and fun than in Mexico. I’ll tell you why. Let’s begin.

History of Cinco de Mayo

Under Ignacio Zaragoza’s command, the Mexican army fought against the French army, intervening for the second time in Mexico on May 5th, 1862.

The first battle, in 1861, occurred in the fortress of San Juan de Ulua in Veracruz. This first conflict was known as the “Pastry War.”

What was the cause of the French intervention?

It turns out that Mexico had a debt of 80 million pesos to England, Spain, and France.

This debt was accumulated during the Reform War.

The conservatives wanted the colony to continue, and the liberals wanted a modern policy to achieve a new social structure.

During this period, the economic losses were notorious, and that is how the foreign debt grew during the government of Benito Juarez.

However, the latter reached a formal and favorable agreement with England and Spain, who managed the situation well.

But France disagreed and demanded its part, so during the negotiations, Charles Ferdinand Latrille, a French general, sent approximately 5 thousand troops to Puebla.

It was there that, on Cinco de Mayo (May 5th), the Battle of Puebla began; since Juarez was aware that the French were not going to stop.

What does Cinco de Mayo actually represent?

cinco de mayo
Source: David Cabrera / flickr.com

In addition to the fact that this was the day that Mexico won another victory, it commemorates the union of the Mexican people to solve their social problems.

And it recognizes the effort of Zaragoza’s army to win the Battle of Puebla even though the French had an advantage.

Likewise, this event delayed the French troops seeking Civil War with the United States, giving Abraham Lincoln time to win.

Lincoln was then victorious at the Battle of Gettysburg, where democracy, equity, justice, and freedom were consolidated for that country.

Influence of Ignacio Zaragoza in the U.S.

cinco de mayo
Ignacio Zaragoza – Source: EUTOPIA MEXICO / flickr.com

Ignacio Zaragoza was a Mexican military general, although he was born in Presidio-La Bahia (now Goliad), Texas.

For this reason, five years after the Battle of Puebla, it was celebrated for the first time in that place.

Little by little, this became one of the most popular May celebrations, but it had more strength at the beginning of the 20th century.

The fact that official celebrations began to be held attracted Mexicans and immigrants, resulting in the union of the Latino community.

This also started the Chicano movement, which took Cinco de Mayo as a symbol representing the nonconformity of oppression and discrimination against migrants.

In the same way, these people took Zaragoza as an example since he represented a natural leader.

Because of his physical appearance and being born in Texas, he was nicknamed the “border Chicano.”

Why does the U.S. celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

cinco de mayo
Source: SolanoSnapper / flickr.com

As I mentioned above, Mexican general Ignacio Zaragoza played a crucial role in American involvement.

That’s why Cinco de Mayo is also marked as “Latino Heritage Day,” celebrating Mexico’s immigrants to the United States.

However, for the American people, this has led to the erroneous belief that the battle of Puebla’s anniversary is Mexico’s Independence Day (which is not).

Although the celebrations began in Texas, the best and most visited festivals of this date in the U.S. are held in Chicago, Denver, Portland, Oregon, and St. Paul, Minnesota.

This includes an area known as the Sun District on the west side of Minnesota’s capital that began to attract Mexican migrants in the 20th century.

It is worth mentioning that Cinco de Mayo has acquired great commercial importance since restaurants and bars make good money during the festivities.

Who participated in the Battle of Puebla?

These are the three brave men who led the victory for Mexico on that day. So please take a shot of tequila on their behalf next time you celebrate:

  1. Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin: Military man born in Texas, he was the leader of the Army of the East in the Battle of Puebla
  2. Porfirio Díaz: During the battle, he was a brigadier general and supported by sending his army from Oaxaca
  3. Miguel Negrete: Military man from Puebla who fought against the French and was a decisive factor in the battle because he defended the Fort of Loreto fiercely

Well, folks, this is it. You now completely understand what Cinco de Mayo is all about.

I hope these facts will be helpful to continue discovering more about Mexico’s History.

Undoubtedly, each past event ends up captivating us with memorable facts of struggle.

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