Cinco de Mayo  the Battle of Pueblo

A celebration of "Si se Puede" and the first step in the eventual joint international success of the United States supporting self determination for its southern neighbor. 

The Mexican dictator General Antonio López de Santa Anna returned to power in 1853 and Benito Juárez was one of a group of liberals expelled from the country.  Arriving in New Orleans in October 1853, he joined forces with such kindred spirits as Melchor Ocampo and José Guadalupe Montenegro to organize a Revolutionary Junta aimed at the overthrow of Santa Anna. 
Harper's Weekly Cartoon of the Day

Harper's Weekly featured a cartoon of a hapless Napoleon III on a  Mexican mule (March 7, 1863) 

The following year the coalition of Mexican liberals, impervious through their idealism to Santa Ana's brides, overthrew the dictator, General Santa Ana, to establish a republic. 

In 1857, disputes over a new constitution led to a civil war and the establishment of rival governments. In 1859, the United States formally recognized the liberal administration of Benito Juárez 


Mexican-American societies were formed after the Mexican-American war (1846-1848) in response to violence committed by US. troops occupying the lands annexed by the US. following the war. 
By the Louisiana Purchase, Texas had become a part of the United States; but in 1819 it had been ceded to Spain in the negotiations for Florida. Two years later Mexico, including Texas, had become independent, and the United States made two unsuccessful attempts to purchase Texas from Mexico. The settlement of Texas by immigrants from the United States finally led to the secession of Texas and its annexation by the United States, with the result that the Mexican War broke out in May, 1846. It was closed by   the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo with payment by the USA of $15,000,000 in  for Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Upper California.
The Mexicans who, in the territories aforesaid, shall not preserve the character of citizens of the Mexican Republic, conformably with what is stipulated in the preceding article, shall be incorporated into the Union of the United States. and be admitted at the proper time (to be judged of by the Congress of the United States) to the enjoyment of all the rights of citizens of the United States, according to the principles of the Constitution; and in the mean time, shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty and property, and secured in the free exercise of their religion without; restriction.

 The societies originally consisted of home guard units but evolved into social societies as stability returned to the southwestern USA. These societies contributed large amounts of material and money to  Benito Juárez  and his Mexican Constitutional Government in its fight against the Mexican Imperial Monarchy.

 as the legitimate government of Mexico. American president James Buchanan sanctioned shipments of war materiel to the Juárez military, as well as the participation of American mercenaries in the republican cause. France, Spain, and Great Britain, however, favored the conservative regime in Mexico. In late December 1860, the liberal forces defeated the conservatives, and a  triumphant Juárez reclaimed Mexico City on January 1, 1861.

 Mexican conservatives or "Club de Notables" then allied with French emperor Napoleon III, who desired to incorporate Mediterranean states and former Spanish and Portuguese colonies in the Americas into a French-led federation (giving rise to the concept of a Latin America). The United States Civil War provided an opportunity for Napoleon III to intervene in Mexico, and the new republic’s large foreign debt supplied the excuse. When the Juárez government suspended its debt payments in 1861, Spain, France, and Britain sent an expeditionary force to demand redress. 

On December 8th, 1861 the European powers landed and occupied Veracruz, Spain arrived first. By April 11, 1862 after realizing France's intent was far greater then debt collection, England and Spain withdrew their support and departed with the payment warrants the Mexican government had offered them.    



"Mexicans! We have not come here to take part in your disputes; we have come to put an end to them... The French flag has been planted on Mexican soil; this flag will not retreat. Let wise men greet it as a friendly flag. Let madmen fight against it if they dare!"

 Napoleon III reinforced French troops and dispatched 7,000 of them to Mexico City 225 miles inland in early April. The French were led to believe there would be little resistance. The only way to Mexico City was through the key cross roads City of Puebla.  In order to carry out this plan Napoleon III assigned General Lorencez in charge of taking Puebla.  Overconfidence was encouraged by both his advisors and the Mexicans who knew better as the French troops advanced inland.

Presidente Juárez commanded General Ignacio Zaragoza to block the advance of the French Army at Pueble. Puebla with 80,000 inhabitants and over 150 churches, was surrounded by a chain of forts. On the north side were Forts Loreto and Guadalupe; on the south, Fort del Carmen; on the west, Forts San Xavier and Santa Anita.  Zaragoza placed some of his 4,000 men in the forts, and held others in reserve in the city, where he had erected barricades in most of the streets as a last line of defense.

The Mexican troops consisted almost entirely of indigenous soldiers were severely under-equipped and faced the best equipped Army in the world at the time.      

Porfirio Diaz led a charge against the French infantry in front of Fort Guadalupe. In the afternoon the Mexicans were blessed with a heavy thunderstorm of rain that drenched the combatants, obscured visibility, and made the ground in front of the fort slippery.

 La Batalla de Puebla raged on for two hours, after which time the French were forced to retreat to Orizaba

The French expected a further attack that did not come, and instead the French spent the night nervously listening to the Mexicans cheering and celebrating their victory. Ironically this included singing 'Marseillaise,' which to the French was 'our Marseillaise,' an  anthem of liberal revolutionaries everywhere. 

"There is no help but in defense but I can assure you... the Imperial Government will not succeed in subduing the Mexicans, and its armies will not have a single day of peace... we must stop them, not only for our country but for the respect of the sovereignty of the nations"
Benito Juárez


Benito Juárez 
brn. Oaxaca 1806 - México City 1872

 During both the Reform War and the 1864-67 war against Maximilian and the French intervention, Díaz distinguished himself as a strong right arm of the liberal cause. He was wounded twice, escaped capture three times, and between 1864-67 led forces that inflicted nine defeats on the imperialists. He also gained a reputation for honesty. On July 17, 1782, President Juárez died of a heart attack. more by google 
Mexico's Lincoln by Jim Tuck


During his 1853 period of exile in New Orleans, Juárez supported himself by working in a cigarette factory.

Some people mistakenly think Cinco de Mayo is Mexico's Independence Day, but the country actually declared its independence on 
September 16, 1810.

( also known as El Grito de Dolores (Cry of Dolores) 

The First Chicano Hero

General Ignacio Zaragoza 
Born March 24, 1829 in Goliad, Texas He commanded the troops at Pueblo was born in Mexico while it was still part of Texas, thus he is the first Chicano hero
He died from typhus contracted from visiting his ill soldiers September 8, 1862. 
He was only 33.

Despite tremendous odds, the Mexican Army, made up of  largely humble indigenous Indians,  defeated the most powerful fighting unit in the world!

General Porfirio  Diaz
 an Indian from Oaxaca Diaz like Juarez, led the successful cavalry charge at Pueblo. He would later autocratically rule Mexico for nearly 35 years until the Rebellion of 1910. Ironically, his first two campaigns for office he ran on liberal principles including opposition to reelection. more

"Si se puede" 
or "Yes you can."

For the first time since Cortez had conquered the Aztec Empire, the Indians had delivered a major defeat to the invaders of Western Civilization

Four days after the victory on  May 9th, 1862, President Juarez officially made the "Batalla de Puebla" (the Battle of Puebla) Battle of Puebla a holiday to remember when  the civilian army defeated the great army of Napoleon III.
The Mexicans had won the battle, 

but not the war.

Following fresh reinforcements, in June 10, 1863, French troops occupied Mexico City, and from there secured most of the central region of the country. In early 1864, Napoleon III established a  regime in Mexico under Maximilian, the archduke of Austria. By 1865, the French had forced Juárez and his men to the Mexican-U.S. border. They went north and requested assistance from the Californians and other Mexican-American societies to help them with volunteers and financial support. 

The monetary and human cost of the intervention, however, aroused opposition within France. Also, with the end of the American Civil War in April 1865, the United States government turned its attention to the situation. In May, General Philip Sheridan led 50,000 American soldiers to face down French troops across the Mexican border. On the diplomatic front, Secretary of State William Seward intensified pressure for a French withdrawal. Realizing the futility of the Mexican morass, and facing growing unpopularity with the French people, Napoleon III agreed in February 1866 to remove his troops, a task completed in March 1867. President Juárez reestablished Republican government in Mexico, and had two months later put Maximilian who had refused to relinquish his title as Emperor on trial.  
The Last Hurrah of the 

Last Battle for Mexican Independence

Maximilian, the idealistic young aristocrat and his wife, Carlota, were crowned in Mexico City on June 10, 1864. Almost immediately, Maximilian's policies antagonized his backers, as he upheld Benito Juarez's land reforms, educated the Indians and the poor, and encouraged Confederates to immigrate to Mexico. Too late, he acknowledged that his government was bankrupt. When the French finally left Mexico in March 1867, Maximilian remained behind, refusing to desert "his people" when Juarez and his army returned. 

Ferdinand Maximilian was born at Schonbrunn Palace in , the second son of Archduke Franz Karl and Archduchess Sophie of Austria. His elder brother Franz Joseph was heir to the Habsburg crown, the oldest ruling European Dynasty.  It is said young Max grew up 'full of curiosity, with a romantic and imaginative nature' 

  In the end, Benito Juarez regained power and had to complet his task of restoring rule to the Mexican people by putting Maximilian on trial for crimes against the Mexican people.

A few days later Maximillon  and his Mexican generals Miguel Miramón and Tomás Mejía, were led up to the  hill top square, Cerro de las Campanas, Queretaro. Seven uniformed men armed with rifles lined up; To each the Emperor handed an ounce of gold and he asked them to take good aim for his heart and make a clean death. He asked that the men not deface him, so his mother, the Archduchess, could see him once more in his coffin.

The last words of Maximilian were in Spanish: 

"I die in a just cause. I forgive all, and pray that all may forgive me. May my blood flow for the good of this land. Long live Mexico! Long Live Independence!, 

 Emperor Maximilian
Born in Vienna on 6 July 1832 to Mexico City to June 10, 1867
Maximilian, the Hapsburg prince from Austria with his wife, Carolota ruled Mexico in France's name from 1863 till 1867 until he was executed high on a Mexico City Hill with his two Mexican generals


Empress of Mexico
then 60 years of solitude


 The Belgium Princess is credited with convincing her husband not to abdicate and attempted to gain support for her husband in Europe. Her father had been offered her husband's position earlier in her life.  She lived in seclusion for the last nearly sixty years of her life in Belgium and Italy. 




In the United States, the "Batalla de Puebla" came to be known as simply "5 de Mayo" and while  5 de Mayo is a Mexican national holiday it is celebrated with much more "energía y alegria" (energy & joy) in the Mexican-American communities north of the border. The  festival celebrates the long complex relationship of Mexican culture with its neighbors with parades, music, folklore, dances, food, drink and perhaps more than a little mystery. 


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