Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla (May 5th)
In Mexico, May 5 commemorates the day of the Battle of Puebla, in which the Mexican army defeated the French army in 1862. The Battle of Puebla symbolizes the fighting spirit and love of independence that characterizes the Mexican people. Currently this day is celebrated by performing civic ceremonies, in many cities’ parades are held. In San Miguel de Allende it is celebrated with a civic ceremony in the garden, groups of dancers’ dance during the day; and it is also customary to represent the fight of that day with people personified both Mexican and French.
In October 1861, Benito Juárez, constitutional president of Mexico, announced his refusal to pay the foreign debt acquired with the European countries: Spain, France and England, by Liberals and Conservatives in the War of Reform. Faced with the threat of being invaded if payments were suspended, Juárez decided to negotiate a friendly agreement that would prevent the transfer of invading troops to Mexico City, the result of the negotiation was the Preliminary Treaties of Soledad, discussed in the state of Veracruz, on February 19, 1862.
At the same time, President Juarez, anticipating the possible military invasion of the Europeans, ordered the transfer of arms and the protection of the city of Puebla, appointing Ignacio Zaragoza to command the 10,000 Mexican men, many of them without any expertise in combat or military training. In 1862, Spain and England broke the tripartite alliance with France, realizing that the latter’s intentions were focused on the establishment of a friendly monarchy with its colonial policy and that would expand its dominions and economic growth.
Ignacio Zaragoza, commanding the Army of the East, divided his army into two wings, one of them retracted in the Forts of Loreto and Guadalupe, faced Leonardo Marquez, a conservative general who supported the French invasion, managing to contain him thanks to the help of the military Miguel Negrete and the young Porfirio Diaz. Charles Ferdinand Latrille, known as the Count of Lorencez, commanded the 6,000 men of the French army, who assured of their superiority over the Mexicans took victory in the invasion for granted.
The French attacked on the morning of May 5, heading directly to the forts where the Mexican militia was located. Strategically, the Creoles reacted with artillery and cannons, which gave them an advantage over the French who moved without protection, in part, because of their sense of superiority over the Mexicans. In the hand-to-hand confrontation and the French militia were decimated, on one of the flanks, thousands of Mexican peasants, including residents of Tetela de Ocampo and the indigenous people of Zacapoaxtlas, attacked the French with machetes and knives by surprise. finishing decimating the invading military, managing to defeat them and, forcing the rest of the French, to flee the battle.
May 5 was one of the morally greatest victories in the country, due to all the social implications that surrounded the territory. Mexico was economically bankrupt due to internal wars and morally its population was unstable in the face of constant guerrilla struggles. The fact that the Mexican army defeated the French soldiers, who had a 50-year winning streak since the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, added more positive feelings to the meaning of the celebration, making the May 5 holiday, before a national holiday, be seen with pride by all the people of the nation.
The activities for the celebration of the holiday are varied in our territory, parades, salutes to the flag and events in schools and educational centers, however, where it is most celebrated is in the United States, where the festivities are taken as the Day of the Latino Pride, with festivals, mariachis, Mexican bands, among other cultural acts of celebration. In New York City, the Cinco de Mayo Parade is held, likewise, in the cities of Chicago, Phoenix and Washington, large groups of Mexican-American communities gather to celebrate the holiday that is taken as a day of celebration of the Mexican pride, which can be confused with the celebration of Mexican Independence Day.