We have talked about Cinco de Mayo in the United States, but what about its Mexican history?
Cinco de Mayo represents Synchrodestiny, as Deepak Chopra would say. Both countries supported each other and that granted freedom for both at the end.
Today we will learn a bit more. This time about the facts on the Mexican side of the border.
A Bit of Time Traveling
Are you ready for a little time travel? Let’s go to mid-1800s.
By 1860, Napoleon III was planning to expand the empire to the new Continent.
About that same time, Mexico was going through a lot of conflicts that were draining their resources.
In early 1861, Mexico was bankrupt due to the many battles since the Independence, back in September 1810. The country wasn’t able to face even its most urgent needs.
So, on July 17th, 1861, President Benito Juarez, decreed an extension of two years to pay the foreign debt to the European countries.
But you know what? These countries didn’t like that. The debt was of around 80 million Mexican pesos.
So, in October 1861, England, France, and Spain subscribed to London Convention. They refused to negotiate, through diplomatic channels, the terms, and conditions under which Mexico would have more time to pay the debt. Instead, they pledged to send armies to Mexico to claim their rights as creditors.
It was the perfect time for Napoleon III, ruler of France, to fulfill his plans. He would invade Mexico to establish a monarchy favorable to Europe, and extend its imperialism to the United States.
So Napoleon III’s plan was to dissolve the Mexican government established by President Benito Juárez. He would then send Prince Maximillian of Hapsburg and Carlota, his wife, to set up their permanent residence in Mexico and reign the colony.
In April 1862 the French armies landed to Veracruz port and undertook a military campaign to the center of Mexico. After several minor attacks, the big battle took place on May 5, 1862, on the hill of Loreto, at the top of which, there was a chapel that Mexicans had set as a fort to defend the city of Puebla.
The hero of the first battle was General Ignacio Zaragoza. his army was of nearly 2,000 soldiers and 2,700 peasants using machetes and spears made of metal-tipped wood they’d called “
The report General Zaragoza yielded on the Battle of Puebla to President Benito Juárez was brief and significant.
However, Mexico’s first victory didn’t last long. A year later, thirty-five thousand French troops defeated the Mexican army.
With this victory, Napoleon III finally managed to take control of Mexico and imposed the Austrian Maximilian of Hapsburg and his wife Carlota as emperor and empress of Mexico. Despite the European efforts, the emperor did not support his empire much. Napoleon III’s victory lasted only 3 years.
In 1867, the conflictive situation in Europe and the pressure of the United States pushed Emperor Napoleon III to withdraw all military and economic support to Maximilian.
At the same time, the Mexican Republicans began to receive financial and diplomatic support from the United States when the War of Secession ended in that country.
Maximilian lost its already weak social base. Mexican Republicans gained important positions on the country until leaving the area of imperial influence only to Puebla and Veracruz.
On April 2, 1867, troops headed by Juarista Porfirio Diaz took the city of Puebla annihilating the empire. Emperor Maximilian was taken prisoner and shot in the Cerro de las Campanas at Queretaro.
Cinco de Mayo and the End of Confederacy
Historians explain that Mexico’s victory on Cinco de Mayo was a critical factor that helped the federal forces against the southern slavery states in the American Civil War since this fact prevented the French army and Napoleon the III to support the Confederate army.
This fact confirmed the influence of the Mexican victory in Puebla in May 1862 and echoed in 1863 at the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, which defined the end of the Confederacy.
As you can see, the United States and Mexico have a lot to celebrate together. They’ve become great democratic countries because they had the strength and determination to fight for their freedom. And when needed they supported each other.
This is what neighbors do, they help each other. And this gives a special meaning to this #TraditionsOfTheWorld that ultimately belong to both countries, The United States and Mexico.
Smithsonian Magazine: www.smithsonianmag.com
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