“Welcome to Cinco de Cuatro — Cinco de Mayo at the White House,” President Barack Obama said Monday in his latest of dozens of little-reported gaffes.
In saying “fifth of four,” had the president meant to say Cuatro de Mayo, Monday's date, the fourth of May?
No matter — Obama's sycophantic press corps swiftly buried yet another presidential fumble that would have been played and mocked for months if former Vice President Dan Quayle or any other Republican had voiced it.
“My [Spanish] accent's always been good,” the president said modestly. “It's just that I only know 15 words.”
Too bad. The previous president, former Texas Republican Gov. George W. Bush spoke Spanish almost as well as he did English.
Americans could learn much by understanding the roots of Cinco de Mayo, a holiday long celebrated in the southwestern United States.
Much as the Jewish holiday Hanukkah is celebrated more in the United States than in Israel, Cinco de Mayo sparks more festivities in the United States than in Mexico, where it is not “an obligatory federal holiday.”
Cinco de Mayo has become a day of pride for Mexican-Americans and Latinos, just as Saint Patrick's Day is for Irish-Americans. And as our Mexican-American population grows, this holiday has spread from the Southwest that once was Mexico to Buffalo, Boston, and Baltimore.
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, when Mexican forces defeated a slightly larger French force.
This victory was temporary. In the second Battle of Puebla in 1863, French troops crushed the Mexican army, occupied Mexico City days later, and continued to rule Mexico for four years.
The French Emperor Napoleon III had dared to send troops to occupy Mexico only because the United States was preoccupied with its own War Between the States, aka our Civil War.
When our war ended, we massed an American army near the Texas border with Mexico and informed the French emperor that our Monroe Doctrine would not tolerate European control of Mexico.
Napoleon III beat a hasty retreat, leaving his installed “liberal” Hapsburg puppet “Emperor of Mexico” Maximilian I to be overthrown and executed at the hands of locals in 1867.
Few in the media will mention that Mexico is an independent nation today only because the United States liberated it from French colonial rule. Without this Yankee intervention, Mexico might be a French-speaking country today.
The cultural residue of French influence in Mexico endures in many ways, such as the hired singers called mariachis, whose name (despite frantic Mexican nationalist denials) was used first in 1852 and probably derives from the French word for marriage that arrived via an earlier surreal 1838 French incursion known as “the Pastry War.”
France also could be blamed for Mexico’s loss of what is now the western United States. Napoleon I sold the United States the Louisiana Territory, which created a potential legal claim to a large, poorly defined share of the wild West.
Napoleon I also overthrew the government of Spain and put his own brother on the Spanish throne, which plunged Spain’s colonies such as Mexico into political chaos.
The resulting uprisings in Mexico ousted Spain and installed a domestic revolutionary government that could not control the centrifugal forces that broke apart Spain’s old North American empire in Mexico (as well as South
America with the uprisings of Simon Bolivar and Jose San Martin).
On Cinco de Mayo, 1862, French troops found it ironic that the Mexican forces opposing them were singing the French revolutionary anthem “The Marseillaise” in Spanish.
Many former Spanish colonists who stayed in the New World remained loyal to Spain. Mexico sent troops three times into California to suppress revolutionary Californios who did not newly independent Mexico to rule them.
The lands now part of the western United States were slipping free from Mexico’s tenuous, oppressive control even before America moved to secure them.
When American forces arrived in California in 1846, half the Californios greeted trailblazer John C. Fremont and his men as liberators freeing them from Mexican tyranny. Fremont would become the first Republican presidential candidate 10 years later.
President Abraham Lincoln gave back to the Roman Catholic Church the Spanish missions that the greedy and corrupt Mexican government had expropriated.
Spain might have a weak historic claim to the southwestern United States. But post-revolutionary Mexico has virtually no legitimate claim whatsoever, contrary to the propaganda of racist Hispanic groups such as MEChA.
Since such groups speak of reconquering for Mexico a mythical land they call Aztlan (named for fabled Atlantis?), were the Aztecs ever here? Apparently not, except for rare raiding parties to attack tribes near today’s northern Mexican border to kidnap fresh victims for Aztec pagan human sacrifices.
In 1861 French troops arrived as debt collectors because the Mexican government stopped making interest payments to its European creditors, but the French soon tried to turn Mexico into a kind of colony.
A century later, with propaganda help from The New York Times and other left-liberal newspapers, the Soviet Union turned Cuba into its colony. Another half-century later, Cuba remains a deadbeat communist dictatorship that has reneged on many billions of dollars of foreign debt obligations, mostly to European nations.
Today The New York Times is 17 percent owned, and kept solvent, by Mexican billionaire telecommunications monopolist Carlos Slim.
Cuba is kept alive only by free oil from Venezuelan Hugo Chavez, a dictator kept in power by strong-arm tactics and 14,000 Cuban secret police.
President Obama has befriended Cuba and Chavez, while giving short shrift to pro-American Colombia and Panama's newly elected right-wing President
Will Obama follow the example of former Democratic loony-liberal President Jimmy Carter, who reportedly plans soon to visit Chavez's comrade Bolivian ruler Evo Morales and, as Globovision of Caracas reported on May 3, “harvest coca leaves” with this radical leftist strongman?
Happy Cinco de Mayo.
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