May 5, 2021- On May 5, 1862, a force of Mexican soldiers and patriots drove a larger force of French troops from the garrison at Puebla, southeast of Ciudad de Mexico. This day is observed in the present time, as a minor holiday in Mexico and as a folk holiday in parts of the United States. Indeed, the United states Army and Marine Corps provided some assistance to Mexican President Benito Juarez, later in the conflict, as the French had established a puppet regime in the Mexican capital, calling it the Second Empire of Mexico. The combined North American forces drove the French out, a short time later.
Of course, I stopped in at a downtown restaurant, the Palace, and had a lunch of street tacos, small flour tortillas, three tiers thick and stuffed with shredded pork, grilled onions and pico de gallo. The celebratory aspect of the day brings out deals on alcohol, but having long ago given up that part of my life, I found my iced tea was on the house.
Although I do enjoy a good party, it is much more meaningful to ponder the strength of common people banding together to defend their territory against a force that is seeking to dominate them, against their will. It is also crucial to consider that citizens banding together is necessary to defend against dominance by an unelected elite. Even when that elite appeals to the popular will, by presenting itself as the sole protector of national cultural values, it is still an unelected elite.
On this Cinco de Mayo, I remain ever watchful of those who present themselves as guardians of the flock, so to speak.