Saturday, May 5, 2018

It’s Cinco de Mayo; What’s your point?

I don’t live these days in a Spanish-speaking enclave of any sort, yet I could – if I wished – take part Saturday in a neighborhood Cinco de Mayo party.
How many people think this is cute?

It was just the other day that one of my neighbors had their young daughter go door-to-door around the neighborhood, handing out invitations to the party they’re planning to have Saturday afternoon into early evening.

THE WHOLE BLOCK, it seems, is invited to share in a joint celebration featuring Mexican-themed food and drink, along with some music.

Did I say this isn’t a Spanish-speaking neighborhood? I may well be the lone Latino living on the block. Do I think this means my neighbors have some particular sensitivity to ethnicity and culture and history?

I sincerely doubt it.

I wouldn’t be the least bit shocked if the fact that Saturday has some sort of holiday attached to it is merely a chance for them to party – and perhaps they think it will be a novelty to offer up margaritas; along with food items that will make the servings at a standard-issue Taco Bell franchise seem to have a touch of authenticity.

WHICH IS WHY I doubt I’ll be out amongst my neighbors – that, and I do have a touch of anti-social behavior in me. If I did go out there, I’d probably be the crackpot who’d want to turn the whole thing into a history lesson.

And I don’t doubt in the least that many of the people who will be doing something to mark Saturday, the Fifth of May, probably have no clue (or any interest in learning) the significance of the date in Mexican history.

What it is is the 156th anniversary of the date that a Mexican resistance group attacked a military garrison in Pueblo (a city located near the capital of Mexico City) and actually managed to drive the troops from the city.
Maximilian I, the Austrian puppet for France who tried ruling over Mexico
This was during the time when France (which regretted the Louisiana Purchase that sold off its North American colonies to the United States) wanted to re-establish a military presence in the Americas.

WHICH LED THE French to think they could confiscate Mexico (which had declared its independence from Spain in 1810 – Independence Day is Sept. 16) and claim it for themselves.

Cinco de Mayo pays tribute to those Mexicans who were willing to stand up for the idea of their home nation as independent and were able to beat what was back then one of the world’s great military powers.

Those modern-day cynics eager to berate Mexico for any reason they can conjure will point out that the French eventually retook their garrison, and that the conflict between the French-backed Mexican emperor (Maximillian of Austria, a French puppet) and the Mexican people lingered on into a stalemate for several years.

But in the way the United States and Mexico intertwine, the end of the U.S. Civil War in 1865 resulted in military aid to the Mexican resistance – which resulted two years later in France giving up its colonial dreams and pulling out their military. The end result was Maximillian being put before a firing squad on June 19, 1867.

U.S. OFFICIALS felt compelled to back Mexicans because the official Mexico government of Maximillian was a Confederate-supporting one – and one that likely would have sent the French military across the Rio Grande into the so-called Confederacy to fight for the cause of splitting the country they helped create some 80 years earlier.
Mexicans enjoy beisbol too

Not that I expect many people today to have any knowledge, or interest, of these events. All too many think Cinco de Mayo is the equivalent of Fourth of July and are more interested in where they can find the cheapest margarita or burrito deal.

Personally, I’d think more highly of them if they followed my lead – taking time out to watch this weekend’s series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres.

Which is being billed informally as the “Mexico Series” because the regular season games are being played at the home ballpark of the Monterey Sultans of the Mexican League.


No comments: