In 1861, Benito Juárez stopped making interest payments to countries to which Mexico owed money. In response, France attacked Mexico to force payment of this debt. France decided that it would try to take over and occupy Mexico. France was successful at first in its invasion; however, on May 5, 1862, at the city of Puebla, Mexican forces were able to defeat an attack by the larger French army. In the Battle of Puebla, the Mexicans were led by General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. Although the Mexican army was victorious over the French at Puebla, the victory only delayed the French advance on Mexico City. A year later, the French occupied Mexico. The French occupying forces placed Emperor Maximilian I on the throne of Mexico in 1864. The French, under pressure from the United States, eventually withdrew in 1866-1867. President Benito Juárez deposed and executed Maximilian five years after the Battle of Puebla.Money, debt, imperial designs. The recurrent upsurge of liberation movements, the protection of spheres of influence, an occasion of Latin and North American cooperation mostly remembered in the United States— all this produced an unofficial holiday that seems to be observed in the Mexican state of Puebla and here. Interesting and strange. Well, now I know. But the reverberation remains untouched. A great sound that, Cinco de Mayo.
Added on Seis de Mayo:
For those who’ve read the comments to this post and would like to know more about Goliad, General Zaragoza, his family history, and the nature of the commemoration as experienced in Texas, I would suggest a visit to this fascinating site offered by the Seguin Family Historical Society.