Inside the Capitol

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Re: 5-4 Cinco de Mayo

WED, 5-4-05

NAPILI BAY, WEST MAUI � Cinco de Mayo is a big day, even in Hawaii. That really isn�t too big a surprise since there is a fair amount of Mexican influence in the islands.
Mexico is the closest mainland nation to Hawaii. When Hawaiians started raising cattle, they didn�t know much about it, so they hired Mexican cowboys they called paniolos. Hawaiian vowels are pronounced the same as they are in Spanish and each vowel is pronounced, so all the funny-looking words actually are easy to say.
For at least two weeks prior to Cinco de Mayo, advertising in all the Hawaiian media has promoted observances and celebrations. It is at least as big a commercial event as in the rest of the United States.
And as we all probably know by now, Cinco de Mayo is a much bigger event in our country than in Mexico. It comes at a good time of year for a celebration and it targets a rapidly growing population from a neighboring country. It has become a commercial bonanza.
It matters little that most Americans think they are celebrating Mexican Independence Day. To them it is merely an opportunity to drink margaritas, eat chile and have some fun. Because the day doesn�t celebrate their independence from Spain, Mexicans don�t get as excited.
That date comes on September 16, but American businesses don�t need that day for a celebration because people are still recovering from Labor Day and Columbus Day celebrations already are revving up in most of the country.
Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican victory over mostly French troops at Puebla in 1862. Civil wars had weakened the new Mexican republic and left it bankrupt. President Benito Juarez had declared a two year moratorium on repayment of foreign loans. France, Spain and England didn�t much care for that idea and moved to collect their debts sooner.
They all landed troops at Veracruz, Mexico in early 1862, knowing the United States was occupied with its own civil war and unable to enforce its Monroe Doctrine commitment to keep foreign intervention out of the hemisphere.
England and Spain thought it was just a show of force, designed to scare the Mexicans into paying. They didn�t realize that Napoleon III of France wanted to take over the country, gain a foothold in the Americas and check any further U.S. expansion. We already had helped ourselves to about half of Mexico two decades earlier.
So England and Spain quickly cut their own deals with Mexico and pulled out. That left France and a dissident faction of rich Mexicans, who had convinced the French that the Mexican people would welcome them. That�s not an uncommon ploy by those out of power who want to entice a foreign country into helping them regain control.
The march toward Mexico City began with 8,000 troops, a newly constituted Foreign Legion and the latest in modern equipment. But at Puebla, a group of 4,000 Mexican irregulars and natives from the area gave the invaders more than they could handle.
The French had to drop back to regroup and wait for reinforcements. The delay didn�t last long, but it gave Mexico time to build its resistance and slow the French troops on their way to take the capital, in Mexico City. It also delayed the French effort to supply American confederate rebels for another year.
Following the union victory at Gettysburg 14 months later, the United States was able to start helping Mexico in its resistance that finally ousted the French in 1867.
The battle at Puebla didn�t win any wars, but it unified Mexican resistance, demonstrated to the world that Mexico couldn�t be pushed around and became a symbol of Mexican patriotism and pride. And it also helped win a war north of the border.
It�s a shame that most Americans don�t celebrate Cinco de Mayo for the right reasons. Let�s all do what we can to get that message across.

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, April 28, 2005 8:02 AM
Subject: Re: 5-4 Cinco de Mayo

on 4/27/05 6:03 PM, Jay Miller at wrote:

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