May 5: The Battle for Puebla

May 5, the date of the commemoration of the Battle for Puebla, marks the first time that the Mexican Army defeated a better fitted foreign power, in this case, the French. The battle took place in today’s city of Puebla de Zaragoza, on May 5, 1862, between the armies of Mexico and France.

In 1861 President Juarez issued a 2-year extension to pay the foreign debt to European countries. In October, 1861, France, England and Spain subscribed the London Convention end pledged to send troops to Mexico to claim their rights as creditors of a debt of about 80 million pesos. They refused to negotiate, by diplomatic means, the way the debt would be paid. Napoleon III, ruler of France, decided to invade Mexico.

In April 1862 the French disembarked in the port of Veracruz and set on a military campaign towards the center of the republic. After several attacks, on May 5, 1862, the battle took place on the Loreto Hill, on whose top a chapel existed, conditioned as fort for the defense of the city. The hero of the first battle was Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza, leading an army of 2,000 soldiers and 2,700 peasants.

In Mexico, the anniversary of the Battle for Puebla has an important significance; however, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in United States as the Day of Mexican Pride, thus acquiring a different relevance than that of the historical meaning of the date.

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