Gringo de Mayo

Gringo de Mayo
Christopher Victorio

Cinco de Mayo is ridiculous. It's not pointless because it serves the nationalist project of promoting pride in a country and its culture. And it isn't worthless, since it has worked like a charm in making Mexicans out of all ethnicities come May 5, even if the extent of commitment toward México lindo y querido is drinking Corona instead of Coors.

But celebrating Cinco de Mayo is ridiculous because it commemorates a victory that ultimately meant nothing. Sure, General Ignacio Zaragoza and his troops held off the French that glorious day of May 5, 1862, in Puebla, but the Mexican triumph was short-lived. When the French and Mexicans fought a year later on the same battlefield, the French whipped some Mexican pompi and ushered in a five-year occupation under the Hapsburg Maximillian.

I write not to diminish the actual event; Zaragoza's impoverished soldiers deserve our admiration for decimating what was then one of the world's best armies. But celebrating Cinco de Mayo is like remembering Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade" for the charge while conveniently forgetting the massacre at the end.

Many people regard Cinco de Mayo as a celebration of resistance to imperial power. If only that were so. The events of that day didn't prohibit the French from turning Mexico into their Latin American playground. Mexicans taste the French legacy every morning in their pan dulce and tortas. Teenagers listlessly practice it in quinceañera waltzes. Men yelp their approval to our French conquerors whenever the mariachi violins begin their pizzicato coda.

Despite this, many Mexicans continue to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. ¿Por qué? The Nobel laureate Octavio Paz had a theory. Examining the Mexican propensity to party, Paz wrote, "The explosive, dramatic, sometimes even suicidal manner in which we strip ourselves, surrender ourselves is evidence that something inhibits and suffocates us. Something impedes us from being. And since we cannot or dare not confront our own selves, we resort to the fiesta."

There's something there. Strangely, Mexicans enjoy harping over the country's inability to defeat foreign aggressors. Look at the examples: The Mexican government bemoans the Conquest nearly 500 years later, simultaneously outraged that Spaniards slaughtered and raped the inhabitants of Anáhuac and angry that Montezuma acquiesced so quickly to Cortés. The annexation by los pinche americanos of half of Mexico 150 years ago because of General Santa Anna's idiocies still makes some Chicanos so miserable they start comparing themselves to Palestinians. (Palestinians! As if someone who speaks horrid Spanish, has parents born in Jalisco that are descended from Europeans, and hasn't lived a day without potable water can logically compare himself to people who have lived in the same parched spot since the time of Christ.) That pretty pochoOscar de la Hoya beat the Mexican hero Julio César Chávez—twice. And let's not talk about the underachieving Mexican soccer squad.

According to Paz, the only way to live with such a bitter legacy is to party. And Cinco de Mayo is Paz's ultimate example of celebrating to forget—even if it promotes a lie.

Mexicanos al grito de guerra:let's confront our perpetual self-pity and stop the Cinco de Mayo celebration. Napoleon III was an egomaniac who, during his lifetime, launched France's imperialist adventures in Indochina and Africa in hopes of emulating his uncle. (For a great portrayal of how loony the Third really was, check out Claude Rains' hammy performance in 1939's Juarez.) The Maximillian-Carlota reign in Mexico is best remembered as two royals so desperate for adoration they sailed halfway across the world to find it among peasants. Yet we celebrate the memory of their conquest over us every May 5 by claiming we defeated them. That's ridiculous.

 
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97 comments
Ozzy Saucedo
Ozzy Saucedo

yo no lo celebro lo conmemoro además la cerveza corona ya no es mexicana

BurroHall
BurroHall

For *exactly* the reasons you've laid out here, I've been advocating changing the name to "Día del Tope," in honor of having briefly slowed the French on their way to conquest.  And really, what's more Mexican than a tope?

Felíz Día del Tope, Gustavo!


STOPTHERECONQUISTA
STOPTHERECONQUISTA

i wonder why it is that north of the Rio Grande it is great...and south it is crap.

Aileen Calor
Aileen Calor

just an excuse to eat Mexican food. i pay homage to the beautiful poblanos by preparing chile rellenos. It's all about commercialization and it's just an excuse to party. Anyway, the gabachos in Puebla back then didn't want a Monarchy. Who wants to be suckered by kings and queens?

Lynn Maners
Lynn Maners

As I understand it, it's a holiday that started in the US in the 1860s/70s, in San Fransisco, then appropriated in the 1970s by Chicano activists. (Who also started doing/sponsoring folklorico, for the same reasons). It was never a big holiday in Mexico, except in Puebla, when I was growing up. Now, I have students from Mexico telling me that everyone got off of work on Wednesday, to begin celebrating Cinco de Mayo.

Das Bass Boot
Das Bass Boot

It celebrates the defeat of the goddamn French--aint that enough? Cinco de Mayo is right up there with other French adventures like the Battle for Algeria, the breaching of the Maginot Line, Dien Bien Phu, the Allied invasion of Normandy, etc...

Whophantom
Whophantom

I'd like to "party" with the chick in the picture ....lol

Polly Romero Salvati
Polly Romero Salvati

Great article - love the revisionist history, much like what is currently going on in GW's library.

Jim Van Matre
Jim Van Matre

I don't think Budweiser is the primary beer of cinco de mayo.

James Provencio
James Provencio

dig deeper. it has nothing to do with Mexico. it has everything to do with chicanos and raza.

Jack Radey
Jack Radey

Its OK to celebrate resistance to imperialism, even if afterwards the imperialistas did better, for a while. They aren't there now, are they? I thought the biggest problem with Cinco de Mayo was that it is celebrated primarily as a Budweiser holiday, like St. Paddy's Day and the rest of them...

cricketnoises
cricketnoises

1.  White Guys want handouts , seen at freeways with their signs. Meth heads.

Most white guys are on Social Security Disability due to being lazy and on meth or drugs.  there goes your social security funds to retire people. yet they dont mention those wasted burden tax paying dollars.... we pay for them druggies to kickback and do drugs.

2.  Mexican Migrants look for work from contractors .

3. Mexican Migrants dont like anyone including American Latinos-Chicanos, or anyone who contributed to America... such as fighting in wars or civil rights issues to make it easier and safer for them being here to bash everyone and praise mexico..  Fact is they should march home , save us all a headache and stop whining about rights , where if the people needed a job in Mexico , they wouldnt give u the time of day.

4.  Mexican Migrants love mexico and hate Americans. including Latino Americans.  they overstayed their visas...  that makes them criminals. and should be disqualified to stay. As for their anchor babies was under a criminal act.... which should nullify the babies and their babies should be with their parents In MEXICO .. not America, Viva Mexico... as for if One parent is American.. then that should be the ONLY reason and Only case where a baby should be Born to be an American.. otherwise there is no interest of american born on american soil.   Because many of these women from Mexico,  look for victims to have a baby to help their entire family to use the Baby to bypass the INS laws and system... these mothers will go as far as setting up their daughters with the Victim Husbands to get asylum citizenship based on allegations of abuse, while they deny their husbands sex. 

5.  Cinco De Mayo is a Latino Festival... many chicanos sell their items , have foods festivals cook offs. and cultural blends from mexico and spanish dishes , etc;   Many of the Mexican People try to own everything that is tied to Mexico... as if they are better than everyone else.  Most of the Mexican People are tribal indians, unless mixed with spanish or korean and asian breeds who migrated to mexico, including domincans.   As for Mexican Migrants.... most are families and are portrayed as gangsters and druggies to stereotype the rest of the Latino people.... and effects all Latino Americans who paid their dues already.

6.  Mexican Migrants do pay taxes... and do send it home to Mexico... many here are causing low paid wages because they work for nothing, and the cheap skates who pay them hurt the economy by hiring them and wages.,  although the prices of low labor is not passed onto the consumer the cheap skate businessmen rip off many and some do not pay taxes either.   its a lose lose situation, but most lazy white people wont do those jobs, because they are too lazy and spoiled. 



Luis Hernandez
Luis Hernandez

What do you have against a condiment! I don't go around saying ketchup sucks coz it's spelled two separate ways! Pick your battles dude!

yholloway5969
yholloway5969

I already know this; what we are talking abt are the Chicano panhandlers that are virtually non-existent on the streets of the USA. You can thank your POTUS for the rest of the problems we face as a nation; I didn't vote for him. If you want to get political about it, why don't you question your govt as to why they ok loans to OTHER immigrants for start up businesses? Or for schooling for that matter?

Erk Audelo Leon
Erk Audelo Leon

Aquì los gabachos y todo mundo lo miran como "fiesta time". That's very sad. Pero en fìn, prefiero ahorrarme los comentarios esta vez pero sepan que en México este no es un dìa tan importante como lo hacen aquì. No se quién diablos pensó que era hora de hacer fiesta....

Ernesto Rodriguez
Ernesto Rodriguez

U are a party pooper.... Do u really think people care what happend in the 1800's?!?!?!

RenoSepulveda
RenoSepulveda

Esta es un essayamos muy excellante'  Day-um Corona works better than those Rosetta Stone CDs I bought at the flea market.

Erick Mata
Erick Mata

I celebrate el-cinco and I am salvi but my bros b-day is 5 de mayo lol

Julian Ponce
Julian Ponce

Dude, maybe you got a bit of your own self-hate in there? Did you realize the French invasion was to support Mexicano reactionary haciendados (Tea Baggers) who wanted to chuck out Juarez (Zapotec Obama) because he was too liberal? After the clock cleaning of 1848 the World, and many Mexicanos, considered "Mexican Army" as an oxymoron. When the Foreign Legion Zouaves landed, the question for the Independent non-aligned Mexicano of the time was, "is the smart move to go with the rebellious ricos, or stick with the government?" Well, even though it was the first battle of a five year war, by showing they could win at least one battle, the Juarez government stemmed the tide of defections and gave the middle-of-the-road Mexican a reason to be patriotic without being suicidal. May 5, 1862 was as an important a political victory for Juarez and Mexico as Tet was for the NVA. Although it lead to subsequent, bloody losses, it showed that fighting back made sense. It gave hope. That matters.

Rod Klopfer
Rod Klopfer

I believe Napoleon III had plans to help the Confederacy, which is why though most Americans did not know this, it has some relevance (probably more than Mexican) to American history. It is an American victory of a battle that we did not fight. That is my take on it.

JC DeVivero
JC DeVivero

Half of my ancestors were on the other side of this battle. Then they came over and made babies. And to summarize your article (in my opinion), los Mexicanos son (somos) fatalistas that like any excuse to party and forget.

Katherine Lopez
Katherine Lopez

Who peed iin his cornflakes? My God, man, life's too short to stuff a mushroom! Partay!!!!

Marie Blancarte-Manriquez
Marie Blancarte-Manriquez

the Mexican people eventually did get their independence from France and it had to start some place. i consider myself to be an American of Mexican decent even if my last name is BLANCARTE

Adam Gomez
Adam Gomez

BUZZ KILL. Eat, drink , and be merry... like the Irish

Dio Colindres
Dio Colindres

Unfortunately the Mexican community don't help to stop the stereotypes and the ignorance, just go to any Mexican restaurant around this time. Talk to random paisanos and ask them what they know about the 5 de mayo. Many think Mexico defeated and sent the French away, when we know the celebration is just about that battle, not the war. some people don't even know who was Maximiliano or Napoleon, how can we help our cause with this kind of ignorance?

Pasitos Jason Wells George
Pasitos Jason Wells George

Agreed, Jim. I don't know any gringos who think it's Independence Day anymore (although admittedly, few know when Independence actually is).

Jim Van Matre
Jim Van Matre

I ain't oppressed girl. And I ain't an oppressor either. You're exactly the reason why we can't get more white people to support immigration reform and open their minds. Hate begets hate girl. We need an open, friendly, productive dialogue to promote tolerance and unity. Offending each other will not further that goal.

Xanat Hernandez
Xanat Hernandez

you're an idiot. the oppressed can't oppress the oppressor. so white people stereotyping brown people is much more harmful because it carries institutional weight. go read a book and stop whining.

Don Alexander
Don Alexander

I like it. Its the Hispanic equivalent to St Patrick's Day, IMO. And besides that, one of my favorite trivia items is that General Zaragosa was born a Texican near Goliad, Texas. Anytime a Texican can kick the French's butt, tis worthy of a party that's accompanied by some cold beer. Salud!

Josue Cervantes
Josue Cervantes

I totally agree, Mexican frustration has led to partying to forget. Also, I dont mind this day being so famous, it brings attention to some parts of our culture and thats at the very least a beginning

STOPTHERECONQUISTA
STOPTHERECONQUISTA

@cricketnoises who the HE77 ARE YOU TO complain about white people? GET OUT OF MY COUNTRY. Those losers panhandling are (unfortunately) our problem. PEASANTS FROM ACROSS THE BORDER ARE NOT. GET IT.

yholloway5969
yholloway5969

You're a fucking idiot lol. Why don't You go back across the fucking water where your ORIGINAL WETBACK family came from, you dumb fucktard. Whether you're Irish, English, German, French, etc., you're people still emigrated here!!! The Mexis were already here! Duh! AND if you try to tell me you were born here, so were WE! Dumbass.

yholloway5969
yholloway5969

I never mentioned the Protestants. Whats you're ethnicity?

yholloway5969
yholloway5969

Lmao. Who sounds ignorant now? YOU'RE pathetic and ignorant. Not to mention that you sound like a Neo Nazi living paycheck to paycheck. Don't blame anyone but yourself for your dwindling account. Thank goodness I have a higher education and don't worry about such things. It must suck to be you.

cricketnoises
cricketnoises

@STOPTHERECONQUISTA @yholloway5969 actually white people used to call indians savages and just the other day they found whites eating each other like um, yes u guessed it savages.. google it. lol  Jamestown ring a bell? 

cricketnoises
cricketnoises

@yholloway5969 i can agree with you on this... just one thing, those mexican migrants who overstayed their visas are illegal criminals... and should go to the back of the line... fact... and no i dont like the racist white majority here.. but we all have to grow up.  and we all have to get along... and we have to like it or too bad.  as for the calling names.. thats for lil kids... 60% of those migrants stayed past their visa expiration date... they need to go home and stop whining about rights... fk em.

STOPTHERECONQUISTA
STOPTHERECONQUISTA

@yholloway5969 you do prove one point. mexicans have NO respect for the USA. none. you keep running out these pilgrim argument to justify your trespassing. pathetic. WE CAN GET IMMIGRANTS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD THAT WOULD RESPECT THIS COUNTRY.

STOPTHERECONQUISTA
STOPTHERECONQUISTA

@yholloway5969 you ignorant slut. the pilgrims the pilgrims. that's all you got? I don't care about 500 years ago or 160 years ago. you pathetic parasites think everyone just wandered around the entire hemisphere. I've got news for you pedro.....if you wandered into aztek or inca land you'd have your heart dug out with a sacramental knife on a stone temple. we middle class americans invest in millions of immigrants happily ......BUT WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. you worthless peasants area a drain on my checking account.

 
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