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Cinco de Mayo celebration

  • Category
    History & Culture
  • Published
    10th May, 2021

The Cinco de Mayo (May the fifth in Spanish) is a joyous celebration every year in Mexico and the United States.

Context

The Cinco de Mayo (May the fifth in Spanish) is a joyous celebration every year in Mexico and the United States.

About

About the Cinco de Mayo

  • Countries: It is celebrated every year in Mexico and the United States.
  • Reason: It is a day that celebrates Mexican national pride, marking Mexico’s military victory on its soil over French forces in 1862.
    • In the 1860s, Mexico had been severely weakened by lengthy wars over the previous two decades — the Mexican-American War (1846-48) and the internal Reform War (1858-61).
    • As a result, in 1861, President Benito Juárez announced a temporary moratorium of two years on repaying Mexico’s foreign debts.
    • In response, troops from Britain, Spain, and France invaded Mexico, demanding reimbursement. By April 1862, Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew, but France, which at the time was led by Emperor Napoleon III, decided to establish an empire in Mexican territories with the support of the local landowning classes. France also intended to curb US power in North America.
  • Indian Connection: After this the Benito Jaurez Marg in New Delhi is named and the Embassy of Mexico in India is also located here.

The Battle of Puebla

  • In late 1861, a French fleet attacked the Mexican port of Veracruz on the country’s eastern coast and landed a large army that drove the Juárez government into retreat.
  • As they moved from Veracruz to the capital Mexico City, the French encountered stiff resistance from Mexican forces.
  • At Puebla, over 100 km ahead of Mexico City, a poorly equipped and outnumbered Mexican force decisively defeated the advancing French troops on May 5, 1862, killing over a thousand.
  • The event marked a significant political victory of Mexican republicans and President Juárez, and helped establish a sense of national unity in the country.

Present-day significance in Mexico and the United States

  • In Puebla, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated annually with speeches, parades, and by reenacting episodes of the 1862 battle.
  • In the US, in the mid-20th century, the celebration became a way for immigrants from Mexico to express pride in their heritage.
  • Cinco de Mayo also became popular with other demographics in the country when the festivities were linked with Mexican alcoholic beverages, such as the margarita.
  • As the celebration assumed greater importance in the country, many have criticised the negative stereotypes of Mexicans that were perpetuated as a result, as well as the promotion of excessive drinking.
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