Capturing Cinco de Mayo on Instagram

To view more photos and videos from the Cinco de Mayo celebrations explore the Centro Histórico de la Ciudad de Puebla and Plaza Olvera location pages and browse the #cincodemayo hashtag.

On the fifth of May, or el cinco de Mayo, Mexican communities celebrate their heritage. Though Cinco de Mayo as it has come to be known is celebrated primarily by Mexican-American communities in the United States, the holiday’s roots begin with the 1862 Battle of Puebla in Puebla, Mexico. In the wake of a series of wars throughout the mid-1800s, the French army marched on Veracruz, sending the Mexican president and government into retreat. At the small city of Puebla, however, Mexican resistance defeated the French army despite being heavily outnumbered. Though not a national holiday in Mexico, the town of Puebla marks the day as an official holiday and celebrates with parades and festivities. Drawing on the bolstered morale and pride from the victory, Mexican-Americans in the western United States first adopted Cinco de Mayo as a holiday in the 1860s. Today, Cinco de Mayo stands as an important celebration of cultural heritage and is celebrated with festivals and performances of traditional mariachi and baile folklórico in cities with large Mexican-American communities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Houston.

Cinco de Mayo: Who’s Holiday Is It, Anyway? Ours!

We all know that there are plenty of myths regarding Cinco de Mayo. One major myth: Mexico won the battle, but lost the war. This falsity was said recently on NPR’s Morning Edition, and posted on CodeSwitch, its race and culture blog. But the line didn’t come from a right-wing Conservative seeking to discredit the triumphs of the Mexican people, it came from Lesley Téllez, a Chicana food blogger who has lived and worked in Mexico for several years.

The fact is that Mexico won both. Mexican forces did lose the Second Battle of Puebla in 1863, but won a third and decisive battle on April 2, 1867, under the command of General Porfirio Díaz. Another important fact is that Mexico’s president, Benito Juárez, never relinquished the presidency while Mexico was under French occupation. Rather, he and his Cabinet led a government-in-exile for three years while fighting the French and their Mexican allies, the Conservatives. Days after the Third Battle of Puebla, the remnants of the French-imposed Mexican Empire fell in Querétaro. Its leader Maximilian I was executed under the orders of President Juárez two months later.

The NPR segment titled “Cinco de Mayo: Whose Holiday Is It, Anyway?”, of course, doesn’t mention any of this. It instead focuses on Lesley’s experience as a Mexican American living in Mexico, which would be fine if the story was any other day and she was there to talk about her work as a food blogger and culinary guide, but why have someone who is clearly unqualified to discuss Mexican history for a segment based around Cinco de Mayo?

Another thing Lesley failed to mention is Cinco de Mayo’s history as a holiday in the United States. Although it’s been celebrated in the U.S. almost continuously since 1862, its popularity today is largely due to Chicano nationalists who revived in the early seventies as a way to honor their heritage and commemorate Mexico’s victory over French imperialism. As pointed out in a previous post, it seems particularly absurd for white people to have chosen this day as their de facto Mexican holiday considering its nationalist origins in both Mexico and the United States. Why not talk about that, NPR, especially if its part of CodeSwitch?

When it comes to Mexican stories, NPR and other news outlets tend to fall back on lazy reporting, and this story is unfortunately another example of it. That’s what happens when we don’t own our narrative (something we need to discuss later), which is why Think Mexican and the few other blogs like it are important!

Watch on thinkmexican.tumblr.com

Obama Likes Saying Stupid Sh*t on Cinco de Mayo

“The margaritas I hear are quite good. Be careful, though, they’ll sneak up on you.” … “On Cinco de Mayo, todos somos Latinos.”

Why does Barack Obama have to say something foolish every year on Cinco de Mayo? And in what universe is Cinco de Mayo a “Latino” holiday and not a Mexican one?

And while Obama talks about shared heritage and opportunity for all, his administration continues deporting more than a 1,000 a day. Sounds like he’s already had one too many!