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Thursday, May 05, 2005

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Original Flamenco Dance Shoes

Flamenco is a Spanish art form with roots deep in Andalusia — Spain’s southern region. Although there are clues as to how this dance and folk music evolved, the details are lost in history.

Even the origin of its name is elusive. Some attribute it to the early 1500s and the Flemish courtiers during the reign of Spain’s Charles V. Their bright clothing inspired the names given things garish or conspicuous, such as flamingoes and flamenco.

Others say flamenco — still referring to the Flemish — was the nationality erroneously given by the common people to Gypsies. Still others claim the name comes from the Arabic fellah mangu — the laborer who sings.


The holiday of Cinco De Mayo, The 5th Of May, commemorates the victory of the Mexicans over the French army at The Battle Of Puebla in 1862. It is primarily a regional holiday celebrated in the Mexican state capital city of Puebla and throughout the state of Puebla, with some recognition in other parts of the Mexico, and especially in U.S. cities with a significant Mexican population. It is not, as many people think, Mexico's Independence Day, which is actually September 16.

The History
The battle at Puebla in 1862 happened at a violent and chaotic time in Mexico's history. Mexico had finally gained independence from Spain in 1821 after a difficult and bloody struggle, and a number of internal political takeovers and wars, including the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and the Mexican Civil War of 1858, had mostly wiped out the national economy.

During this period of struggle Mexico had accumulated heavy debts to several nations, including Spain, England and France, who were demanding payment. Similar debt to the U.S. was previously settled after the Mexican-American War. France was eager to add to its empire at that time, and used the debt issue to move forward with goals of establishing its own leadership in Mexico. Realizing France's intent of empire expansion, Spain and England withdrew their support. When Mexico finally stopped making any loan payments, France took action on it's own to install Napoleon's relative, Archduke Maximilian of Austria, as ruler of Mexico.

France invaded at the gulf coast of Mexico along the state of Veracruz (see map) and began to march toward Mexico City, a distance today of less than 600 miles. Although American President Abraham Lincoln was sympathetic to Mexico's cause, and for which he is honored in Mexico, the U.S. was involved in its own Civil War at the time and was unable to provide any direct assistance.

Marching on toward Mexico City, the French army encountered strong resistance at the Mexican forts of Loreto and Guadalupe. Lead by Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin, a small, poorly armed militia estimated at 4,500 men were able to stop and defeat a well outfitted French army of 6,500 soldiers, which stopped the invasion of the country. The victory was a glorious moment for Mexican patriots, which at the time helped to develop a needed sense of national unity, and is the cause for the historical date's celebration.

Unfortunately, the victory was short lived. Upon hearing the bad news, Napoleon had found an excuse to send more troops overseas to try and invade Mexico again, even against the wishes of the French populace. 30,000 more troops and a full year later, the French were eventually able to depose the Mexican army, take over Mexico City and install Maximilian as the ruler of Mexico.

Maximilian's rule of Mexico was also short lived, from 1864 to 1867. With the American Civil War now over, the U.S. began to provide more political and military assistance to Mexico to expel the French, after which Maximilian was executed by the Mexicans - today his bullet riddled shirt is on display in the museum at Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City. So despite the eventual French invasion of Mexico City, Cinco de Mayo honors the bravery and victory of General Zaragoza's small, outnumbered militia at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.


President Bush Hosts Cinco de Mayo Party
President George W. Bush joked about hosting the White House Cinco de Mayo party on Wednesday, May 4, saying, "Next year I'm going to have to work on my math."

"The way I see it is mi casa es su casa (my house is your house)," Bush told guests, many of Mexican-American or Hispanic heritage, seated in the Rose Garden at tables decorated in bright pink, blue and green.

"I always look forward to Cinco de Mayo especially because it gives me a chance to practice my Spanish," he said. "My only problem this year is I scheduled the dinner on cuatro de Mayo. Next year, I'm going to have to work on my math."

Cinco de Mayo, the fifth of May, commemorates the 1862 Battle of Puebla in which Mexican troops defeated invading French forces. It is marked by celebrations in Mexico and the Mexican-American community.

"The United States and Mexico are united by ties of family, faith in God and a deep love for freedom," Bush said.

But there have been tensions between the two countries over Mexico's opposition to the Iraq war and stalled efforts to ease U.S. immigration rules to benefit Mexican workers.

"Mexican-Americans are also strengthening our country with their patriotism and service. Thousands of Mexican-Americans have sacrificed in the armed services for our freedom," Bush said, adding 8,700 men and women born in Mexico were now in the U.S. military.

What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

1 Broken Heels:

JBG said...

Now thats a long long long post and lots of neat info.. Whats up with the shoes?
If u say so

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