We celebrate the 1862 Mexican army victory over the invading French army. Not Mexican Independence day.
"Today commemorates the long-shot victory of the Mexican army over the French in the Battle of Puebla. It’s a celebration of Mexican and Mexican-American culture, and a reminder of our anti-colonialist roots."
-Julian Castro, Mayor of San Antonio (09-14) U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from (14-17)
"Cinco de Mayo has been celebrated in the United States more than in Mexico. Celebrations in the state of Puebla (100 miles east of Mexico City) are common, but are fairly uncommon in the rest of the country. Many Puebla residents are conversant about the 1862 battle and how naval forces from Great Britain, Spain, and France traveled to Mexico to negotiate various financial debts. Spain and England settled their conflicts and left quickly but France decided to fight, believing they would be the easy victors and could establish a French colony in Mexico."
"Historically, El Cinco de Mayo is a U.S. holiday that originated after the Gold Rush and during the U.S. Civil War, and was celebrated in California, and to a lesser extent in Nevada and Oregon. It was created to affirm Latina/o pride and identity and it was also a way to respond to and resist many forms of oppression, from the Foreign Miners Tax, “Greaser Law,” denial of suffrage, injustice in the courts, lynchings, and land theft by European Americans. During El Cinco de Mayo celebrations, Chicanos/as flew both the U.S. and Mexican flags to demonstrate their support for Mexicans fighting despotism by the French in Mexico and to show solidarity with people held in slavery in southern U.S. states."
Sudie Hofmann is a professor in the Department of Human Relations and Multicultural Education at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota.
"For Mexicans in the U.S., the Civil War and the French invasion of Mexico were like one war with two fronts. They were concerned about France, which sided with the Confederacy, being on America's doorstep.”
"Major Jose Ramon Pico, a general who organized Spanish-speaking cavalries to fight alongside the Union in the Civil War, as a prime example of what was at stake for some Latinos. His grandmother was listed as Mulato in the 1790 census,” he says. “He came from an African-Mexican family, so he organized troops to fight for freedom and [linked] the Civil War to the French intervention in Mexico.”
-David Hayes-Bautista, Professor of medicine and Director of the Center for the
Study of Latino Health and Culture at the University of California Los Angeles
“By the time [Latinos in California] heard about the news of the battle, they began to raise money for the Mexican troops and they formed a really important network of patriotic organizations,” “They had to kind of make the case for fighting for freedom and democracy and they were able to link the struggle of Mexico to the struggle of the Civil War, so there were simultaneous fights for democracy.”
-Jose Alamillo, a Professor of Chicano studies at California State University Channel Islands.