La historia del Cinco de mayo

Cinco de mayo

Cinco de Mayo—or “Fifth of May”—is a Mexican holiday that commemorates the victory of the Mexican army over an invading French army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. It is not, as many people mistakenly believe, Mexico’s Independence Day. Although the Mexican army was eventually defeated, the Batalla de Puebla became a symbol of Mexican unity and patriotism. With this victory, Mexico demonstrated to the world that it was willing to defend itself against foreign intervention.

The Battle of Puebla occurred during a tumultuous period in Mexico’s history. Mexico had gained independence from Spain in 1821, but a series of political takeovers and wars—including the Mexican-American War of 1846–1848 and the Mexican Civil War of 1858—had left Mexico bankrupt. Mexico was unable to make payments on the large debts to England, Spain, and France it had accumulated. On July 17, 1861, Mexican President Benito Juárez issued a statement in which he declared that all foreign debt payments would be suspended for a period of two years, but promised that after this period, payments would resume.

The English, Spanish, and French refused to allow President Juárez to suspend payments. They decided to invade Mexico and get payments by whatever means necessary. Although the Spanish and English soon abandoned their plans to invade Mexico, French Emperor Napoleon III persisted, intending to create an empire in Mexico.

In 1862, the French army began its advance toward Mexico City.. The Mexican victory at the Batalla de Puebla halted the French invasion of Mexico.

Unfortunately, the victory was short lived. Upon hearing the news of the battle, Napoleon sent 30,000 more troops overseas to attempt another invasion of Mexico

For the most part, Cinco de Mayo is primarily a regional holiday in Mexico, celebrated most enthusiastically in the state of Puebla and in Mexico City. Celebrating Cinco de Mayo has become increasingly popular along the U.S.–Mexico border and in parts of the United States that have a high population of people with a Mexican heritage. In these areas the holiday is a celebration of Mexican culture and foods, music, and customs unique to Mexico. Parades are a popular expression of celebration on this holiday, as are mariachi music, folkloric dancing, and other festive activities.

La batalla de Puebla

La batalla de Puebla

Battle of Puebla Conflict:

The Battle of Puebla occurred during the French intervention in Mexico.

The Mexicans won their famous victory on May 5, 1862.

Armies & Commanders: Mexican: General Ignacio Zaragoza, approx. 4,500 men French Major General Charles de Lorencez with 6,040 men

Battle of Puebla Summary:

In late 1861 and early 1862, British, French, and Spanish forces arrived in Mexico with the goal of recovering loans made to the Mexican government. While a blatant violation of the US Monroe Doctrine, the United States was powerless to intervene as it was embroiled in its own Civil War. Shortly after landing in Mexico, it became clear to the British and Spanish that the French intended to conquer the country rather than simply collect on debts owed. As a result, both nations withdrew, leaving the French to proceed on their own.

On March 5, 1862, a French army under the command of Major General Charles de Lorencez was landed and began operations. Pressing inland to avoid the diseases of the coast, Lorencez occupied Orizaba which prevented the Mexicans from taking possession of key mountain passes near the port of Veracruz. Falling back, the Mexican army of General Ignacio Zaragoza took up positions near Alcuzingo Pass. On April 28, his men were defeated by Lorencez during a large skirmish and he retreated further to the fortified city of Puebla.

Pushing on, Lorencez, whose troops were among the best in the world, believed he could easily dislodge Zaragoza from the town. This was reinforced by intelligence suggesting that the population was pro-French and would aid in expelling Zaragoza's men. At Puebla, Zaragoza placed his men in an entrenched line between two hills. This line was anchored by two hilltop forts, Loreto and Guadalupe. Arriving on May 5, Lorencez decided, against the advice of his subordinates, to storm the Mexican lines. Opening fire with his artillery, he ordered the first attack forward.

Meeting heavy fire from Zaragoza's lines and the two forts, this attack was beaten back. Somewhat surprised, Lorencez drew upon his reserves for a second attack and ordered a diversionary strike towards the east side of the city. Supported by artillery fire, the second assault advanced further than the first but was still defeated. One French soldier managed to plant the Tricolor on the wall of Fort Guadalupe but was immediately killed. The diversionary attack faired better and was only repulsed after brutal hand-to-hand fighting.

Having expended the ammunition for his artillery, Lorencez ordered an unsupported third attempt on the heights. Surging forward, the French closed to the Mexican lines but were unable to breakthrough. As they fell back down the hills, Zaragoza ordered his cavalry to attack on both flanks. These strikes were supported by infantry moving into flanking positions. Stunned, Lorencez and his men fell back and assumed a defensive position to await the anticipated Mexican attack. Around 3:00 PM it began to rain and the Mexican attack never materialized. Defeated, Lorencez retreated back to Orizaba.


A stunning victory for the Mexicans, against one of the best armies in the world, the Battle of Puebla cost Zaragoza 83 killed, 131 wounded, and 12 missing. For Lorencez, the failed assaults cost 462 dead, over 300 wounded, and 8 captured. Reporting his victory to President Benito Juárez , the 33-year old Zaragoza stated, "The national arms have been covered with glory.” In France, the defeat was seen as a blown to the nation's prestige and more troops were immediately sent to Mexico. Reinforced, the French were able to conquer most of the country and install Maximilian of Habsburg as emperor.

Despite their eventual defeat, the Mexican victory at Puebla inspired a national day of celebration best known as Cinco de Mayo. In 1867, after French troops left the country, the Mexicans were able to defeat the forces of Emperor Maximilian and fully restore power to the Juárez administration.

Benito Juarez

Benito Juarez

Benito Pablo Juárez

From the Concise Enciclopedia Británica.

Benito Juárez. (credit: Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.)

(born March 21, 1806, San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca, Mex. — died July 18, 1872, Mexico City) National hero and president (1861 – 72) of Mexico. A Zapotec Indian, Juárez initially studied for the priesthood but later took a law degree and became a legislator, a judge, and a cabinet minister. He led La Reforma, a liberal political and social revolution in Mexico, and, when liberal forces gained control of the national government in 1855, he was able to implement his ideas. In 1857 he was elected head of the Supreme Court, which, under a new constitution, placed him first in the order of presidential succession. In 1858 a coup by conservative forces sent Mexico's president into exile, but Juárez succeeded him and headed a liberal government that opposed the regime installed by the conservatives. After three years of civil war, the liberals prevailed. Juárez was elected president in 1861 and twice reelected. Early in his first term, the French under Napoleon III invaded and occupied Mexico, putting Maximilian of Austria in power in 1864. When Napoleon later withdrew his troops, Juárez defeated Maximilian's armies and had him executed in 1867. Juárez's final years were marred by a loss of popular support and by personal tragedy. He died in office.

Ejecución de Maximiliano

Maximilian’s Execution:

Maximilian Execution

Maximilian’s Execution:

Puppet ruler

Like other European rulers, Napoleon III wanted influence in the New World. He singled out the republic of Mexico where a civil war was raging. In 1864 with the aid of a French army of 24,000 men, he set Archduke Maximilian on the Mexican throne. But Maximilian, the brother of Emperor Franz-Joseph of Austria, had a weak character and was little more than Napoleon's puppet. The Mexicans rose in revolt against the foreign intruder and by 1867 Napoleon had had enough of his Mexican adventure. He withdrew his troops and Maximilian fell into the hands of the Mexican rebels. Together with two of his generals, he was executed by firing squad on 19 June. A few weeks later, photos of the execution were on sale in Paris. The shocking event provoked great indignation in France, where everyone blamed Napoleon


Three men are being executed in a walled town square. They stand to the left, holding each other's hands. The six-man firing squad has just fired. Their captain stands behind them holding up his sabre, with which he has just given the order to fire. On the right, a soldier loads his rifle for the final shot. On the left, at the far side of the wall, are the crosses and gravestones of a cemetery. It is the execution of the Archduke Maximilian of Austria (1832-1867), emperor of Mexico, and two of his generals Miramón and Mejía. The event took place in Mexico on 19 June 1867. The sentence was carried out in the Cerro de las Campanas. His last words were, "Mexicanos! I die in for a just cause... the independence and liberty of Mexico. May my blood be the last to flow for the good of this land. Viva Mexico!". The French impressionist Edouard Manet recorded the tragic event in this painting made in 1868.


The Wedding of Musical Traditions

Prior to the arrival of Cortes the music of Mexico, played with rattles, drums, reed and clay flutes, and conch-shell horns, was an integral part of religious celebrations. Quickly, however, as Christianity spread, in many areas these instruments gave way to instruments imported by the Spanish: violins, guitars and harps, brass horns, and woodwinds. The Indian and mestizo musicians not only learned to play European instruments, but also to build their own, sometimes giving them shapes and tunings of their own invention.

Mariachi - What Does It Mean?

Musicologists and folklorists have argued for years over the origin of the word - Mariachi.

The explanation that appears most frequently - especially on record jackets and in travel brochures - is that it is a variation of the French word mariage, meaning wedding or marriage and comes from the time in the nineteenth century when Maximillian, a Frenchman, was Emperor of Mexico. According to this myth the Mariachi was named by the French after the celebration with which it was most commonly associated. Currently, however, the best scholarly opinion is that the word mariachi has native roots. One theory is that it comes from the name of the wood used to make the platform on which the performers danced to the music of the village musicians.

The Unique Make-Up of the Mariachi Ensemble

In the complete Mariachi group today there are as many as six to eight violins, two trumpets, and a guitar - all standard European instruments. Then there is a high-itched, round-backed guitar called the vihuela, which when strummed in the traditional manner gives the Mariachi its typical rhythmic vitality; a deep-voiced guitar called the guitarrón which serves as the bass of the ensemble; and a Mexican folk harp, which usually doubles the base line, but also ornaments the melody. While these three instruments have European origins, in their present form they are strictly Mexican.

Porfirio Díaz

Porfirio Díaz

Porfirio Díaz

José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori was born a mestizo, or of mixed Indian-European heritage, in the state of Oaxaca in 1830. He was born into extreme poverty and never even reached complete literacy. He dabbled in law, but in 1855 he joined a band of liberal guerrillas who were fighting a resurgent Antonio López de Santa Anna. He soon found that the military was his true vocation and he stayed in the army, fighting against the French and in the civil wars that wracked Mexico in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. He found himself aligned with liberal politician and rising star Benito Juárez, although they were never personally friendly. José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori (1830-1915) was a Mexican general, President, politician and dictator. He ruled Mexico with an iron fist for 35 years, from 1876 to 1911. His period of rule, referred to as the Porfiriato, was marked by great progress and modernization and the Mexican economy boomed. The benefits were felt by very few, however, as millions of peons labored in virtual slavery. He lost power in 1910-1911 after rigging an election against Francisco I. Madero, which brought about the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920).

Napoleon III

Napoleon III

Napoleon III

(born April 20, 1808, Paris, France—died Jan. 9, 1873, Chislehurst, Kent, Eng.) Emperor of France (1852–70). The nephew of Napoleon, he spent his youth in exile in Switzerland and Germany (1815–30). With the death in 1832 of Napoleon's son, Napoléon-François-Charles-Joseph Bonaparte, duke von Reichstadt, he became the claimant to the French throne. After an abortive coup d'état, he was exiled by King Louis-Philippe to the U.S. After another attempted coup (1840), he was arrested, tried, and imprisoned. He escaped to England (1846) and returned to Paris (1848), where he was elected to the national assembly. He evoked the legend of Napoleon to win the popular vote as president of the Second Republic. Attempting to expand his power, he staged a coup in 1851 and made himself dictator; in 1852, as Napoleon III, he became emperor of the Second Empire. Seeking to reestablish French power, he led France into the Crimean War and helped negotiate the treaty at the Congress of Paris (1856). He sided with Sicily against Austria (1859) and was victorious at the Battle of Solferino. He aided Italy in achieving unity and annexed Savoy and Nice (1860). He promoted liberalized policies within France, which enjoyed prosperity during much of his reign. In the 1860s he gradually introduced political liberalization. He expected material rewards from his “Latin empire” after installing Maximilian as emperor of Mexico (1864–67) but was disappointed. He kept France neutral in the Austro-Prussian War (1866), but in 1870 Otto von Bismarck contrived to involve France in the disastrous Franco-Prussian War. After leading his troops to defeat in the Battle of Sedan (September 1870), Napoleon surrendered and was deposed as emperor.

Ignacio Zaragoza

Ignacio Zaragoza


Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín (March 24, 1829 – September 8, 1862) was a general in the Mexican Army, best known for his unlikely defeat of invading French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 (the Cinco de Mayo).Zaragoza was born in la Bahía del Espíritu Santo, in what was then the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas, now the city of Goliad, Texas, in the United States. The Zaragoza family moved to Matamoros in 1834 and then to Monterrey in 1844, where young Ignacio entered the seminary.During Mexico's political unrest of the 1850s, Zaragoza joined the army supporting the cause of Mexico's Liberal Party, opposing dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. He commanded an army of volunteers in 1855 that defeated Santa Anna and led to the reestablishment of a constitutional democratic government in Mexico.Zaragoza served as Secretary of War from April through October 1861 in the cabinet of President Benito Juárez. He resigned in order to lead the Mexican Army of the East against the Europeans who, using the Mexican external debt as a pretext under the Treaty of London (1861), had invaded Mexico.When the French forces of Napoleon III invaded Mexico in the French intervention in Mexico, Zaragoza's forces fought them first at Acultzingo on April 28, 1862 where he was forced to withdraw. Zaragoza understood the favorable defensive positions outside of the city of Puebla, and with a force that was smaller and not as well equipped as his opponent, he beat back repeated French assaults upon the Mexican positions at Forts Loreto and Guadalupe. The French were forced to retreat to Orizaba.His famous quote Las armas nacionales se han cubierto de gloria (English: The national arms have been covered with glory) is used to remember the battle, and comes from the one-line letter he wrote to his superior, President Juárez, to inform him of the victory. It is included, along with Zaragoza's likeness, on the current MXN $500 banknote.
Shortly after his famous victory, he contracted Typhoid fever, and died at the age of thirty-three


One of the most famous volcanoes around the world is Popocatepetl, pronounced “poh-poh-kah-tay-pet-ul,” in central Mexico.
Located along the Mexican border states of Puebla and Mexico, Popocatepetl, or Popo for short, rises 17,887 feet, almost 3-1/2 miles.
Popo is the second highest mountain after the Orizaba peak in Mexico. It has a symmetrical cone and is forested at the base.
Popocatépetl comes from the Nahuatl words “popoca” (it smokes) and “tepetl” (mountain), thus Smoking Mountain.
Popo is linked to the Iztaccíhuatl volcano to the north by the high saddle known as the Paso de Cortés. The mountains contain major deposits of silver and copper.
Popo is currently active.
A major eruption occurred in 1947. On Dec. 21, 1994, the volcano spewed gas and ash as far as 25 kilometers away through prevailing winds. The activity prompted the evacuation of nearby towns.
In December 2000, tens of thousands of people were evacuated by the government based on scientists’ warnings of an eruption. The volcano then made its largest display in thousands of years.
One of the first Europeans to ascend Popo was Diego de Ordaz in 1519. Subsequently, the Spanish used the sulfur from the crater to make gun powder. The Spaniards recorded eruptions in the 16th and 17th centuries.
About 30 eruptions have been reported, many resulting in mild-to-moderate volcanic steam and ash emission.
Today, more than 30 million people live within view of the volcano and hundreds of thousands of people would be endangered if a major eruption occurred. Such an eruption could also endanger aircraft at the Mexico City international airport.
The Legend of Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl
In Aztec mythology, Popocatépetl was a warrior who loved Iztaccíhuatl, or Izta for short.
Izta’s father sent Popo to war in Oaxaca, promising that he could wed his daughter if he returned. Izta’s father doubted his return, and at one point, Izta was told her lover was dead . She died of grief. When Popo returned, he died of grief over losing her. The gods covered them with snow and changed them into mountains. Izta’s mountain was called “Sleeping Woman” because it bears a resemblance to a woman lying on her back. He became the volcano Popocatépetl, raining fire on earth in blind rage at the loss of his beloved.

Friday, April 30, 2010

¡Atención estudiantes!

Print your Scavenger Hunt page with all the written answers.The first team to turn the complete page will receive a big tasty prize!