Cinco de Mayo: A celebration of freedom
Last updated 5/1/2022 at 6:23pm | View PDF
The Cinco de Mayo Festival is making its return to the streets of Shafter this Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m. with a downtown parade. The celebration has grown every year, with festivities happening all over the country, with parades, reenactments and food and music.
The origins of the special day goes back to the year 1862. In an clear example of an underdog, the outnumbered forces under Ignacio Zaragoz took on and defeated the mighty French forces on May 5 of that year. The French Army was attempting to overtake and capture Puebla de Los Angelas, a small town in east central Mexico. The Battle of Puebla lasted from daybreak to early evening, and when the French retreated, they had lost nearly 500 soldiers, compared to less than 100 lost on the Mexican side. Victory at the Battle of Puebla represented a great moral victory for the young soldiers and the Mexican government, symbolizing the country's ability to defeat its sovereignty against threat by a powerful foreign nation.
Today, Mexicans and Americans alike celebrate the anniversary of the battle. At the time, President Abraham Lincoln supported the victory of the Mexicans. Lincoln sent arms to the Mexicans and would have sent more assistance and arms, but the United States was in the middle of the Civil War at the time.
Lincoln supported the victory because it kept Napoleon from supplying the Confederate rebels for another year, allowing the United States to build up its army..
They defeated the Confederates at the Battle of Gettysburg just 14 months after the Battle of Puebla, essentially ending the Civil War.