Cinco de Mayo: A Celebration of Kicking a French Debt Collector’s Ass

by Johnny Debacle

Mexico's Abraham LincolnMexico was “independent” indepedent after 1821 and none of the relevant dates associated with this independence fell in May. So unbeknownst to many tequila addled revelers, they are not drinking to Mexican independence. No, Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of a man, the Mexican Abraham Lincoln, my buddy Benny Juarez, and his success in dealing with the 18th century credit card countries.

Post 1821, Mexican government was volatile and fiscally imprudent. They didn’t have the tax collection revenue to support all the spending they were doing, so by 1861 their credit score was crap and they were way late on their payments to France, England and Spain. They wanted to handle it the right way, so they called up those countries and let them know “Hey, we can’t make the payments now, but we will work out a payment plan starting in two years so we can get our house in order. We’re good for it, our new president is Benito Juarez and he is basically the shit.” France, England and Spain sent armed representations to Mexico, and England and Spain walked away appeased after some negotiations.

France however planned to foreclose on all of Mexico because that was just how Emperor Napoleon III did things. They came en force and this was back before they were soft. The Mexicans needed to demonstrate to their collection agents that they weren’t gonna go down without a scuffle, and that collecting on their debt was bad business for any credit card country. General Zaragoza, who every US schoolchild doesn’t learn about, led a collection of Indians and Mexican soldiers to fight back and crush a French force that was 15-25x as large. That is an exaggeration but it is true. It was like the Alamo, but if we won and were also Mexican. It was a rough and tumble few years, but this victory, Benito Juarez and later the support of the United States, brought Mexico into good times.

The above is 100% truth 74% of the time.

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