Friday, May 5, 2017

Cinco De Mayo

Two years ago my brother-in-law and I put the dock in the lake. The water temperature hovered around 62 and the sunny air was a warm 72 for Southern Maine. David and I waddled into the water with trepidation, but it wasn't so bad once we passed our waists.

Coming out was another thing.

Both of us shook from the long immersion in the cold water. My sister ordered us to take hot showers and we obeyed her command.

When we returned to the kitchen two margaritas were waiting on the table.

"Happy Cinco de Mayo." My sister was a big believer in national and international holidays.

"Viva Juarez." I raised my salt-rimmed glass to clink a toast.

"Why Juarez?" My brother-in-law smacked his lips. The rims of margaritas were tangy with lemon.

"Juarez led a revolt against the Catholic conservatives and in 1861 declared a moratorium on debt payments to Britain, Spain, and France, which had supposedly loaned the previous government over $52 million, but only had issued $1.2 million in actual money. Juarez protested that firstly the loan was made to a deposed government and secondly that the amount was wrong. The family of the French Emperor owned the paper on this debt and Napoleon III convinced England and Spain to defend its claims."

"How do you know this?" David was always suspect of my stories.

"I was a history minor in college." Those courses had been my only As.

"Sounds like that could happen to America now." My sister taught finance at a college in Boston. Sovereign debt was crushing countries across Europe and her students were buried under credit card bills and student loans.

"England tried to force Iceland to pay the debt of its banks and the Icelanders kicked out the government. The banks punished Iceland by closing all the McDonalds. In 1862 France showed up with an invading army, which pursued Juarez forces toward Mexico City. On May 5th the Mexicans stopped running at Puebla and fought French forces twice their force under the command of their 33-year-old Mexican Commander General, Ignacio Zaragoza SeguĂ­n. They achieved a great victory and thereafter have celebrated Cinco de Mayo."

"Let me guess." David was enjoying his margarita. "The French sought revenge for this defeat."

"How well you know the French. They installed a Habsburg emperor protected by an imperial army."

"Second guess. It ended badly."

"Maximilian I was executed by the Mexicans. End of the foreign intervention and Cinco de Mayo was important to the USA, since the Mexicans stopped the French from supplying the Confederates with arms."

"Cinco de Mayo." We clinked glasses again and my sister began to fix another batch of drinks.

I liked mine with salt.

We weren't going anywhere.

E me gusto en ninguna parte."

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