Say “Cinco de Mayo” to the average American and you’d
probably be asked, “Where’s the party?”
True, it is a celebration, but the advertising world and the
mainstream media have all but erased its historical significance; most people
associate Cinco de Mayo with after-work bar crawls and copious amounts of
tequila and beer, and tacos and guacamole.
Cinco de Mayo commemorates this day in 1862, when an
outnumbered, outgunned Mexican army repelled French invaders in the Battle of
Puebla. Oddly, the event goes practically unnoticed in Mexico, and is more
celebrated in the United States, particularly California and Texas.
Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, author of El Cinco de Mayo: An
American Tradition and professor of medicine and director of the Center for the
Study of Latino Health and Culture at UCLA’s School of Medicine, explains the
connection between Cinco de Mayo and the abolition of slavery in the United
States, the Civil War, the Declaration of Independence and, most importantly,
the “Indo-Afro-Iberio Americano” sociopolitical achievements already made
long before English settlers founded Jamestown (Va.) in 1607, and
Plymouth (Mass.) in 1620.