Some Cinco de Mayo fast facts

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Are you here because you took the Cinco de Mayo quiz and wanted to learn a little more?  Here are a few things about Cinco De Mayo you did or did not know...

MYTH: Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico's Independence Day, or Día de la Independencia

Nope. That's not true.  Mexico's Día de la Independencia, or Independence Day, is September 16th. 

Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico's victory over France in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, during the Franco-Mexican War.  The battle saw an outnumbered Mexican army defeat a well-equipped and much larger French army in the town of Puebla de Los Angeles. 

By most accounts, the Battle of Puebla lasted about a day.

MYTH: Battle of Puebla was a war between Mexico and Europe

Close but no cigar. Mexico's Civil War drained the country financially, plunging it into a colossal foreign debt.  This forced president Benito Juarez to suspend payments owed to European countries.  Spain, Britain, and France responded by sending troops to demand payment.

Juarez negotiated deals with Spain and Britain, but France, boasting one of the world's strongest armies, decided to send a force of 6,000 troops into Puebla intending to establish a French empire in Mexico.

On May 5, 1862, the French army, armed with long-range firepower, marched waves of soldiers uphill into Puebla.  They were expecting a swift victory but quickly retreated after losing hundreds of soldiers during the battle.  By comparison, Mexico suffered only a few dozen casualties.  That Mexico was able to defeat an overwhelming French force turned a minor battle into a major victory for Mexico.

MYTH: The Battle of Puebla lasted several years

Nah uh.  The battle lasted a day but after their defeat, France ordered several thousand more troops into Puebla and Mexico City the following year and eventually took over the two cities.  The U.S. -- having ended it's own Civil War -- sent military support to help Mexico in their war against France forcing Emperor Napoleon III end the French occupation in 1866.

What is "Grito de Dolores," or “Cry of Dolores”

Here's this excerpt from the Library of Congress:

The Grito de Dolores ("Cry of/from Dolores") was the battle cry of the Mexican War of Independence, uttered on September 16, 1810, by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Roman Catholic priest from the small town of Dolores, near Guanajuato, Mexico.

“My Children, a new dispensation comes to us today…Will you free yourselves? Will you recover the lands stolen 300 years ago from your forefathers by the hated Spaniards? We must act at once.”

Mexico's Independence Day, or 'El Grito de Dolores'  -- also known as also known as 'El Grito de la Independencia' (Cry of Independence) -- is celebrated on September 16.

Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Cinco de Mayo

In 1933, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt implemented a policy aimed at improving relations with Central and South American countries.

In his March 4, 1933 his inaugural address, he said:

"In the field of World policy, I would dedicate this nation to the policy of the good neighbor, the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others, the neighbor who respects his obligations and respects the sanctity of his agreements in and with a World of neighbors."

This effort helped mainstream and foster acceptance of holidays and traditions important to Mexican-American citizens, such as Cinco de Mayo.


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