Wednesday, May 5, 2010
May 5th is celebrated as "Cinco De Mayo" in the southwest United States and increasingly elsewhere in America. But it's not widely celebrated in Mexico, actually, in part because it's not, as is widely supposed by revelers in America (and perhaps by the flag wavers, too) "Mexican Independence Day." Rather it commemorates the unlikely victory of the Mexican Army over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on this date in 1862.
It was all over unpaid debts, actually. In 1861 Mexico had stopped making payments on national debts it owed to several foreign nations, including France. So, in the style of the day, the French invaded Mexico in an attempt to occupy it and force repayment. The surprising Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla only delayed the inevitable, however. A year later the French took control of Mexico City and later installed Maximilian I as their puppet Emperor of Mexico in 1864. Five years after the Battle of Puebla, in 1867, Maximilian I was deposed and executed.
Perhaps the rioters in Greece today should be a little more thankful that European debt repayment methods have evolved over the last 150 years.