Here are some pics from the birthplace of Cinco de Mayo: Fuerte de Loreto in Puebla, Mexico. No, folks, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Independence Day, but there was an important battle here against the French, and actually, it's a pretty cool story.
Cinco de Mayo's history has its roots in the French Occupation of Mexico. The French occupation took shape in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War of 1846-48. With this war, Mexico entered a period of national crisis during the 1850's. Years of not only fighting the Americans but also a Civil War, had left Mexico devastated and bankrupt. On July 17, 1861, President Benito Juarez issued a moratorium in which all foreign debt payments would be suspended for a brief period of two years, with the promise that after this period, payments would resume.
The English, Spanish and French refused to allow president Juarez to do this, and instead decided to invade Mexico and get payments by whatever means necessary. The Spanish and English eventually withdrew, but the French refused to leave. Their intention was to create an Empire in Mexico under Napoleon III. Some have argued that the true French occupation was a response to growing American power and to the Monroe Doctrine (America for the Americans). Napoleon III believed that if the United States was allowed to prosper indescriminantly, it would eventually become a power in and of itself. In 1862, the French army began its advance. Under General Ignacio Zaragoza, 5,000 ill-equipped Mestizo and Zapotec Indians defeated the French army in what came to be known as the "Batalla de Puebla" on the fifth of May.
Here's AdRi at the fort, ready to fight!
The city of Puebla itself is really lovely. Very colonial, an amazing old church in the middle of town (see the picture of ironwork in front of church below), and Puebla is well known for its culinary attributes: famous mole. (Click on any of the photos to see them larger.) Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Viva Mexico!
P.S. I can't believe no one has complained about the constant playing of the white boy rapper piece everytime you load the main page of this blog. I think it's a nice juxtoposition to hear while viewing pictures from Puebla, Mexico. Art, people, art!