Every year Mexicans and even many Americans celebrate the Mexican festival of Cinco de Mayo. The story begins with the war between Mexico and France, which occurred simultaneously with the Civil War in the United States.

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The Mexican army was ill-equipped. Nevertheless, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza, the Mexican army would make a historic stand on Cinco de Mayo.

This victory would thrill a young and fledgling Mexican government that was able to temporarily thwart a foreign invader and show its strength as an independent nation.

Benito Juarez, the first president of Mexico, was a progressive. He became the leader in 1861. However, Juarez took control of a bankrupt country, and the President had to forgo repayment obligations to European nations. Benito Juarez had no choice but to forego payment obligations to European countries to maintain his position.

The governments of Spain, Great Britain, and France responded by sending their ships to Veracruz to demand payment. To prevent Napoleon III from seizing Mexico, Benito Juarez utilized diplomacy and got both the British and Spanish out of there. However, in 1864, the French navy attacked Veracruz again; this time, Benito Juarez had no option but to flee.

A hodge-podge group of 2,000 patriots was organized and rallied by Juarez and commanded by General Zaragoza. At Puebla de Los Angeles, the Mexicans defeated the French on the Cinco de Mayo from their fortified town.

The day’s battle resulted in almost 500 French dead and less than 100 Mexican dead.

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