(Yeah, my Spanish is basically nonexistent, so I assume I messed that up.)
So, it’s Cinco de Mayo. It’s time to drink, and celebrate the independence of Mexico, right! It’s tequila time!
Except that’s completely wrong, and the US is basically celebrating the French getting their ass kicked by boozin’ it up.
Basically, Mexico gaining independence from Spain in 1821 didn’t end up as great as Mexico was hoping; thanks to various wars, political infighting, and losing a good chunk of the country to those assholes over the river, Mexico was in a lot of debt. England, Spain, and France had been loaning the government money to fight these wars, and, consequently, Mexico couldn’t pay them back as they had promised. The new president of Mexico, Benito Juárez (the first, and so far, only indigenous president since independence) basically told the other three countries they’d have to wait to get their money, and suspended payments for a planned two years.
Since England, Spain, and France were run by impatient jerks, they said “uh, no, we want our money NOW” and got together in October to decide what to do. Forming the Tripartite Alliance, they planned to invade Mexico, take Veracruz, and essentially hold the government hostage until they paid off their debts. Clearly, this was a brilliant idea, and all three invaded Mexico with this intention….until France decided they had an even better idea, and decided to expand its empire. (The fact the head of France was Napoleon III basically tells you all you need to know about why this grand scheme came about. He had some ideas.)
The battle itself basically came about because of a mistake; the French forces were supposed to withdraw to the coast, but due to some basic breakdowns in the negotiation, along with the fact the French general was basically pissed at what he saw as an obvious plan to attack him, the withdrawal didn’t happen. Instead, the French camped in Orizaba, while the Mexican troops they had soundly beaten retreated to Puebla. There, the Mexican general Zaragoza basically handed Lorencez his ass, when the French decided to stupidly attack a city that was fortified and used up the majority of their ammunition before Zaragoza even bothered to curb stomp them.
Unfortunately, while the Battle of Puebla was a stunning defeat for the French, and basically embarrassed them handily worldwide, they recouped fairly quickly and won the second battle only fifteen days later, laying siege to Puebla and beating them into submission. The French had an open road straight to Mexico City, and they walked right into it, putting the Habsburg Archduke Maximilian on the throne as Emperor Maximilian I for all of three years before his execution. To his credit, he did do some good things, like upholding some of Juarez’s Liberal reforms, opened banks, had some railways built. But he wouldn’t give up the throne, so he had to go.
Now go forth, and drink tequila.