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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Batalla de Puebla: Mexico’s victory over France

illustrated+by+Amber+Davis
illustrated by Amber Davis

Jose Romero
senior editor

Since the 1860s, Cinco de Mayo — or La Batalla de Puebla — has been a day celebrating Mexican-American culture in the U.S.

It’s worth noting Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican independence day. Mexico’s independence day is Sept. 16 and celebrates the country’s freedom from Spain. 

“Cinco de Mayo celebrates the victory of the incipient Mexican army over the French army, one of the best in the world at the time, during the Battle of Puebla in the year 1862,”  South Spanish instructor Julieta Cano said. “This victory symbolized the country’s ability to defend its sovereignty against a powerful foreign invading nation.”

Cano recalled her memories of the festivities in Mexico, attending the parade as it passed through. But Cinco de Mayo isn’t celebrated as heavily in Mexico as it is in America. 

The holiday began in California as a cultural celebration, which is why, nowadays, Los Angeles hosts its largest party known as Fiesta Broadway, according to NBC News. Puebla is one of the only places in Mexico where citizens largely celebrate it. 

Cano said the president of Mexico in 1861, Benito Juárez, was elected during a period of financial ruin because of internal conflicts. The country’s condition at the time led Juárez to default on debt payments to Europe, causing France, Britain and Spain to send naval forces to Veracruz. 

“Mexico negotiated with Britain and Spain, and they withdrew their forces,” she said. “France, ruled by Napoleon III, decided to establish an empire in the Mexican territory.”

The French army pushed Juárez into retreat during their infiltration of Veracruz, she said. After its victory, France advanced to Mexico City, then to Puebla de Ángeles, where the French army was defeated by 2000 soldiers. 

The soldiers were primarily made up of indigenous, or mestizo, Mexicans led by general Ignacio Zaragoza who was sent by Juárez, Cano said. 

“The victory of Cinco de Mayo in 1862 was not the end of the French invasion of Mexico, but it represented the victory of the people’s will to resist invading forces,” she said. 

In 1867, France fully withdrew from Mexico after citizens executed Maximillian, the emperor appointed by Napoleon in 1864.

Como las palabras de Juárez dicen en la bandera de Oaxaca, “Entre los individuos, como entre las naciones, el respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz.”

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