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Cinco de Mayo, also known as the fifth of May, is a holiday that celebrates the day the Mexican Army defeated France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War on May 5, 1862.
Today, the fifth of May is celebrated across the United States as Cinco de Mayo. This particular day is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, but in the United States, Cinco de Mayo has transformed into a commemoration of Mexican heritage and culture.
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Many may confuse Cinco de Mayo with Mexican Independence Day, but it’s not. At the time of this battle, Mexico was in a financial ruin and Benito Juarez, the newly elected president, had defaulted on debt to European countries. France, Spain and Britain all sent military forces to demand repayment. Mexico was able to negotiate with Britain and Spain; however, Charles-Louis Napoleon Bonaparte III, nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte and the first president of France, was the ruler of France. Charles-Louis Napoleon Bonaparte III saw the situation as an opportunity for France to seize Mexico and expand French territory.
On the fifth of May, 159 years ago, Napoleon’s general sent 6,000 trained soldiers to Puebla and President Juarez rounded up 2,000 loyal men from the countryside. By the time the battle was finished, nearly 500 Frenchmen were dead, and less than 100 Mexicans had lost their lives. This victory became a symbol of hope which fed the Mexican resistance movement until France finally withdrew. Today, Cinco de Mayo serves as a day to remember and celebrate the culture and heritage of Mexico.