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MEXICO: 5th of May

I was confused as to the meaning of "pizzaz". Now Tom Grey brings up someone called Lt. Smash, who does have a little pizzaz, but is unknown to me. Tom says "At least he remembered ...the Cinco de Mayo"(May 5) and refers us to It shows the usual distortion of history. It begins "The Fifth of May is a big holiday in Mexico, celebrating the military victory of the Mexicans over--wait for it--the French. So I go into the chow tent, and am delighted to discover that they're serving what appears to be Mexican food." Univision TV described how Mexican Americans are celebrating May 5 in this way, whereas in Mexico it is now more of a working day. The Mexican American anchorman boasted that this was the day when the Mexicans threw the enemy (the French) out of Mexico.

This is a gross distortion of history. Mexico did not win a war of independence, which it achieved through shady politics, so it invented a glorious victory. In 1861 French troops invaded Mexico and at Puebla fought the Mexicans under General Ignacio Zaragoza, who defeated the French on May 5, 1862. The French sent more troops and took Puebla, thus opening the way to Mexico City, where Maximilian was established as emperor. The defence of Puebla was heroic, but nothing more. As usual, history is used as a pretext for a fiesta. Presumably Mexicans in Mexico are celebrating it less because they have to work hard to stay alive.

President Bush decided not to celebrate the day at the White House, which Mexicans took as a sign of his displeasure that Fox had not supported him in the Iraq war- Likewise Bush cancelled his state visit to Canada. History, fiesta, politics all mixed up. The celebrants were all mixed up too.

Ronald Hilton - 5/6/03