Today In Latin American History

The Battle of Puebla, which has become a popular holiday in the United States under the name Cinco de Mayo, took place on May 5, 1862, when a Mexican army led by Ignacio Zaragoza (who was born in what is now the state of Texas) defeated a much larger French army during the time of the French Intervention in Mexico. A significant victory, it nevertheless failed to put and end to France’s designs on the country, and French military forces were able to take over the Mexican capital some time later. Napoleon III eventually installed the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph as Emperor Maximiliano I of Mexico in 1864. French involvement in the country would continue for the next few years, with a definitive end arriving with the ouster and eventual execution of Maximiliano I in 1867. Future Mexican president Porfirio Díaz was a military officer during the Battle of Puebla, and the holiday is said to have gained greater prominence in the country—and, eventually, in the neighboring United States—during his rule at the turn of the century, although the day is also said to have been celebrated by Mexican miners in California in the 1860s. The anniversary of the Battle of Puebla is currently considered a regional event in Mexico, celebrated in the state of Puebla. In the United States, the holiday is often confused with the date of Mexican independence, which is celebrated on the 16th of September.

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