Today is not Mexican Independence Day. You’ll have to wait until September 16 for that.
Cinco de Mayo marks La Batalla de Puebla which translates to “The Battle of Puebla,” the day the humble and outnumbered Mexican Forces defeated the French military– the most powerful military at the time. The victory came amid a difficult chapter in Mexican history.
Mexico had just surrendered half its territory to the United States as a result of losing the Mexican-American War, leaving the country in economic crisis. Due to this, President Benito Juarez ordered the halt of all payments to foreign debt, of which a great amount was owed to France. Frustrated, France sent forces to Mexico in an effort to secure payment, but were met with great resistance. Despite being outnumbered and ill-prepared in comparison, President Benito Juarez sent forces to Puebla under the command of General Ignacio Zaragoza to confront, and eventually defeat the French forces.
This remarkable victory sparked a nationalistic and patriotic pride that had been lacking in Mexico for years. That’s why more than 100 years later, the Chicano movement of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960’s embraced it. To the Chicanx and Latinx communities, Cinco de Mayo represents overcoming incredible odds and pride for their heritage; their determination and their potential.
Today however, not only does it get confused with Mexico’s Independence Day, but it gets used as an excuse perpetuate stereotypes, such as sombreros, large mustaches and tequila drinking. Cinco de Mayo, for example, was number four on “Time Magazine’s” list of the Top 10 drunkest holidays and is often dubbed “Cinco de drink-o”.
This misrepresentation was the result of alcohol companies attempting to reach a wide demographic. But it blew totally out of proportion and now, all the effort the Mexican forces put forth, along with the efforts the Chicanx and Latinx communities have continue to put forth, are blatantly neglected and by extension utterly disrespected.
By all means celebrate today– it is important to recognize and embrace everything the contributions Chicanx and Latinx communities in this country make to our society, as well as the beautiful and rich cultural heritage of Mexico. But do not reduce us to a sombrero, a mustache and some fucking tequila.
JOEL RODRIGUEZ- Copy Editor
DAVID ROJAS- Graphic Designer