DBD 05-05-2022: Cinco de Mayo

In 1861, Benito Juárez—a lawyer and member of the Indigenous Zapotec tribe—was elected president of Mexico. At the time, the country was in financial ruin after years of internal strife, and the new president was forced to default on debt payments to European governments. France decided to use the opportunity to carve an empire out of Mexican territory. Late in 1861, a well-armed French fleet stormed Veracruz, landing a large force of troops and driving President Juárez and his government into retreat. An army of 6,000 French troops assaulted Puebla de Los Angeles, defended by 2,000 poorly supplied Mexicans. After a full day of battle, the French retreated after losing about 500 soldiers to the Mexican’s 100 or so. It was a major symbolic victory, but May 5th is not Mexican independence day.