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Cinco de Mayo

Destiny Short, Sports Editor

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Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on the fifth of May every year. Contrary to the popular belief of people outside the country of Mexico, it is not a celebration of Mexican Independence, which was declared more than 50 years earlier. Cinco de Mayo really celebrates the 1862 victory of the Mexican army over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. In 1861, the new president of Mexico, Benito Juárez, was forced to default on debt payments to European countries because he inherited the poor economic state of the nation. In response to the non-payment, France, Britain, and Spain sent Naval forces to Mexico to demand repayment. Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew their forces, but France decided to use it as an opportunity to carve an empire out of Mexican territory. With France sure of their victory, they sent 6,000 troops to attack the city of Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico. President Juárez rounded up a ragtag group of only 2,000 men and sent them to defend Puebla. The battle lasted from daybreak to the early evening. When the French finally retreated they had lost nearly 500 troops, while Mexico had lost less than 100. It is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico and is primarily only observed in the state of Puebla, but other parts of the country take part as well. For many Mexicans, it is just a normal day, so offices, banks, and stores stay open. However, in the United States, it has evolved into a mass commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage, especially in areas of the nation that have large Mexican-American populations. Some of the largest festivals are held in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston.

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Cinco de Mayo