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Sierra Grande celebrates Cinco de Mayo

Modified: Monday, May 6th, 2013

The Cinco de Mayo King and Queen junior Veranique Vigil and seventh grader Tomas Agustin.

Courier staff writer

BLANCA — Aztec dancers, folklórico rhythms, Spanish songs and royalty filled the Sierra Grande High School gym on Thursday to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

For 15 years the school has hosted the event filled with cultural song, dance complete with a “Rey” and “Reina.” This year, the crown was placed on the head of seventh grader Tomas Agustin and the tiara on junior Veranique Vigil. Their court included Prince Wade Nelson, junior, and Princess Brook Lucero, senior; sixth grade candidates Lesley Banuelos and Kaleb Sanchez; seventh grade candidate Nina Vigil; eigth grade candidates Shania Chairez and Daniel Esquer; freshman candidates Felicia Minchaca and Antonio Vigil; sophomore candidates Karla Munoz and Regis Gilmartin; and senior candidate Tomas Vigil.

The king and queen are selected through a voting/fundraising event. Each candidate leaves a jar accessible for people to fill with money. The boy and girl with the most money collected are named to the royal throne and the funds are put towards the high school’s Spanish Club.

The 2013 Sierra Grande Pan America winners were also recognized during the Cinco de Mayo celebration. This year, the Sierra Grande Aztec Dancers took home first place honors along with Mariah Vialpando, Poetry I; Marisabel Fierro, Poetry IV and Speech IV; and Cristal Cepeda, Speech I. Second place awards went to Sierra Grande Chihuahua, Dance; Michael Ray Vigil, Art; Nora Ojeda, Poetry IV; and Bradley Tijerina, Grammar I. Third place winners were Makena Holtcamp, Poetry I; Wade Nelson, Poetry II; Eric Martinez, Grammar II, and fourth place ribbon takers were Janelle Santillano, Poetry IV; and Martinez, Speech II. Fierro and Ojeda were both awarded $600 scholarships to Adams State University.

Cinco de Mayo

The fifth of May marks the Mexican Army’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla. Although the Mexican Army was eventually defeated, the “Batalla de Puebla” came to represent a symbol of Mexican unity and patriotism. With the victory, Mexico demonstrated to the world that it and all of Latin America were willing to fight against foreign invaders, especially imperialist states looking to conquer the world.

The holiday’s history begins with the French Occupation of Mexico, which happened after the Mexican-American War in 1848. Mexico was in a devastated state because of the American and French battles. In an attempt to fix the nation’s bankruptcy, President Benito Juarez issued a moratorium on July 17, 1861 suspending all foreign debt payments for two years.

The English, Spanish and French did not permit the moratorium and decided to collect their payments through force. The three countries initially invaded Mexico, but Spain and England eventually withdrew. France continued its occupation, hoping to create an Empire of Mexico under Napoleon III. Some believe this was the French ruler’s reaction to the United States’ growing power.

In 1962, France advanced on General Ignacio Zaragoza’s 5,000 ill-equipped Mestizo and Zapotec Indians. Zaragoza and his men defeated the French soldiers and the effort has since been remembered as “Batalla de Puebla.”

In the United States, the day is most commonly known as Cinco de Mayo and often confused with Mexican Independence, which took place on Sept. 16, 1810. The holiday is also celebrated on a much larger scale in the United States than it is in Mexico. People of Mexican descent living in the United States often celebrate Cinco de Mayo with parades, mariachi music, folklórico dancing and festivals.

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