Cinco de Mayo celebrates the 1862 Battle of Puebla, the beautiful temperate Mexican City that is home to UPAEP. This 2021 Cinco de Mayo celebration has special significance (and an immigrant connection) see below. At 5:30pm May 5th please join the Bronx-based Mexican Coalition, CIPS, CCNY LALS and UPAEP for a special Cinco de Mayo celebration on Zoom, Facebook or at Monroe College, a healthy 15 minute (.7 mile) walk from Fordham’s Rosehill campus. Unfortunately, some of us have a graduate class at 7:30pm Wednesday evening and so we may attend online. If you plan to attend in person please bring your COVID-19 vaccination* card. This is not a Fordham Event, but do show your ID at Monroe college and mention Jairo Guzman or Darryl McLeod at the door. (*NYS now is committed to vaccinating everyone 16 or older, for times and locations see Google Maps or call Fordham Security x2222).
On May 5th, 1862, Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragoza defeated a much larger French force. After years of war, Benito Juárez, a lawyer and first Indigenous Mexican President of Indigenous Zapotec origins, defaulted on the “odious debt” accumulated by previous governments. In a classic exercise of “gunboat diplomacy,” Spain, France, Britain, and the United States sent military units to Veracruz to collect their debts. Preoccupied with the Civil War, President Lincoln quickly negotiated a settlement, as did the British and Spanish. This left French Emperor Napoleon III (nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte) to continue with what he saw as an opportunity to make Mexico a French colony. Indeed, a larger French Army made it to Mexico City in June 1863, just as the decisive Battle of Gettysburg began. Roos (2019 ) argues the The Battle of Puebla prevented French troops from reaching Mexico City in time to help the Confederacy by buying their Cotton (which Europe desperately needed due to the Union blockade).
The Battle of Puebla takes on special significance this year. On January 6th, 2021 it was startling to see Confederate battle flags flying inside the U.S. Capitol (a symbolic display that eluded the Confederacy). Hence 2021 is a perfect year to honor the brave Mexican soldiers led by a Texas-born Mexican General who defeated a much larger French Army on Cinco de Mayo in 1862. Other Texas Immigrants played a role as well: Texas officially joined the Confederate States of America in 1861, but many 1st generation Texans of German and Mexican descent remained pro-Union. Some fled to Mexico but on August 1st, 1862 thirty-four pro-Union 1st generation German immigrants were murdered by Confederate troops (the infamous Nueces Massacre.) Then as now, Mexican and European immigrants in Texas wanted nothing to do with the White Supremacist views of the State’s Confederate leaders.