May 3, 2019 - Issue: Vol. 165, No. 73 — Daily Edition116th Congress (2019 - 2020) - 1st Session
RECOGNIZING CINCO DE MAYO; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 73
(Extensions of Remarks - May 03, 2019)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Page E535] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] RECOGNIZING CINCO DE MAYO ______ HON. SHEILA JACKSON LEE of texas in the house of representatives Friday, May 3, 2019 Ms. JACKSON LEE. Madam Speaker, I rise today to recognize the holiday of Cinco de Mayo commemorating the victory of the Mexican Army 1862 over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. The fifth day of May, or Cinco de Mayo, is a special day because it represents the importance of freedom, liberty and determination for the people of Mexico and for Mexican-Americans. It was on that day, May 5, 1862, that untrained, outnumbered, and outgunned Mexican forces--determined to protect their land-- successfully defended the town of Puebla against the French. The quest for an independent Mexico started on September 16, 1810, when the people of Mexico, following the will to become a free nation, refused to submit to Spanish rule. The struggle went on for 10 years. Finally, in 1821, the first independent Mexican government was established. But being an independent nation was not easy. Over the years, Mexico received economic support from several nations, France and England among them. Later on, even Spain supported the new country. Thus, Mexico became heavily indebted to foreign powers. Due to ongoing political unrest caused by many groups struggling for power, Mexico was not able to pay back the loans. On July 17, 1861, President Benito Juarez issued a moratorium in which all-foreign debt payments would be suspended for a period of two years, with the promise that after this period, payments would resume. In 1862, France, Spain, and England dispatched their fleets to Mexican shores pursuing not only money but also land rights as payment for their loans. A government representative greeted them and explained that Mexico acknowledged its debts but had no funds to pay them. They were offered payment warrants in exchange. The Spaniards and the British decided to accept the warrants and withdrew from the scene. But the French government's representative did not accept the offer and ordered his troops to invade the country and head toward Mexico City, the nation's capital. They had to cross through the state of Puebla to get to the capital. Mexican President Benito Juarez reacted immediately and prepared the defense. He commanded Ignacio Zaragoza, a young and brave General, to fortify the City of Puebla and repel the French invaders. The battle was by no means even. France, under Louis Napoleon's rule, had the world's most powerful army, and sent more than six thousand men to invade Mexico. But the courage and the love of freedom impelled the Mexican people to fight back. General Ignacio Zaragoza led 5,000 ill-equipped Mestizo and Zapotec Indians called Zacapoaxtlas. On the 5th of May 1862, the forts of Loreto and Guadalupe, in the city of Puebla, became the scene of the historic defeat of the great army of France. Against overwhelming odds, they managed to drive the enemy back, achieving a total victory over the best trained and equipped soldiers in the world and ending the era of European domination of the Americas. For Mexico, this day has come to represent a symbol of Mexican unity. In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is also a celebration of the rich cultural heritage Mexican Americans have brought to the United States. Hispanics are the fastest growing minority group in the United States. According to the most recent data available, the estimated Hispanic population in the U.S. is 57.5 million--constituting 17.8 percent of our nation's population. Hispanics now own a record number of small businesses--1.6 million, with annual revenues of more than $221 billion. Small businesses create two-thirds of American jobs, and the fastest- growing small business sector is Latino-owned firms. Today, there are 40 Hispanic Members in the United States Congress, including 4 Senators and 36 House Members, many of whom are Mexican- American, representing constituencies in all regions of the country, from California to New York, from Arizona to Illinois, from Colorado to Florida. These gains and numbers tell us that Hispanics are a driving force in our country--economically, socially and politically. Hispanics share the common goals with all other Americans of freedom, opportunity, and a chance to build a better life. In pursuing these aspirations, Hispanics have made important contributions to life in the United States in the fields of culture, sports, entertainment, business enterprise, science, politics and others. Today, millions of Americans will join our neighbors to the south in celebrating Cinco de Mayo. On this day, we are reminded that all people--regardless of their race, color, or gender--have enriched cultures and are worthy of respect and self-determination. I am happy to be here today to celebrate this momentous day and to recognize the values, traditions, and positive contributions of the Mexican culture. ____________________