May 022013
"Why is Cinco de Mayo a holiday?" Or how has Hollywood treated the Franco-Mexican War?

Cinco de Mayo, or May 5, is a Mexican holiday that receives little attention in Mexico but is an important holiday for the Mexican-American community. The holiday celebrates a Mexican victory at Puebla against French invaders, which begs the question, why did France invade Mexico in the first place?

The French Intervention in Mexico (1861-1867) is one of the stranger footnotes in history. Employing a flimsy excuse, Napoleon III, the nephew of Napoleon, invaded Mexico, stage-managed a referendum in favor of switching from a republic to a monarchy, and placed Archduke Maximilian, the brother of Emperor Franz Josef of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, on the throne. The French army defeated the Mexican army, but Maximilian’s support was limited to the conservative elite, while the countryside was dominated by Juaristas, guerrillas loyal to President Benito Juarez. After the fall of the Confederacy and the end of the American Civil War (1861-1865), the victorious Union would not tolerate a French presence on its southern border. Blatant pressure convinced the French to return home, enabling Juarez to regain control of Mexico. When the Juaristas finally captured Maximilian, they placed him on trial and executed him, so the brother of one of the most powerful men in the world died in front of a firing squad, like the thousands of Juaristas who had been executed in his name. Read More…

Aug 122011
The French Intervention in Mexico

When Mexican President Benito Juarez refused to honor the foreign debts accumulated by his predecessor. Emperor Napoleon III of France used this refusal as an excuse to invade Mexico in 1862 and install Archduke Maximilian, younger brother of the Habsburg Emperor of Austria, as Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico in 1864. Napoleon hoped to exploit Mexico’s rich mineral resources and counterbalance the American republic with a Catholic Mexican monarchy. Maximilian proved to be more fixated on court etiquette than ruling the country, so when American pressure forced Napoleon to recall his army, forces loyal to Juarez restored the Mexican Republic in 1867. Read More…