May 5, 2013 - The Real Cinco de Mayo -Cindy Gomez-Schempp from

Defining A Day of Independence

Mexican Independence day is NOT Cinco de Mayo. Most people in the U.S. think it is, but they are wrong. For some background on the history of the celebration of Cinco de Mayo in Mexico vs the U.S. check out my take from 2012 here:

The article I wrote about Cinco de Mayo a year ago is relevant and true. But there is more to the story of Cinco de Mayo. This year, I want to dig deeper. We must begin by remembering that Mexico’s indigenous nations, conquered by Spain, were enslaved or eradicated. Those who survived became catholics, as much of Mexico remains to this day. Those who survived have made many sacrifices. Among them, the loss of their indigenous languages, and shed identities that tie us to tribal nations, tradition, and wisdom. The loss of medicine, history, and identity has affected us every generation since our conquest.

The “fight for independence” from Spain in 1810 was a European-on-European fight between the Spanish ruling class in Spain and the Mexican born full-blood Spaniards, who had no rights to political power in Mexico. The disgruntled Mexican-born Spaniards, like Miguel Hidalgo –Independence leader who lost his life six months after he began it – – raided prisons and haciendas/plantations to liberate enslaved/imprisoned full-blood/mixed-blood indigenous peoples. The freed indigenous people led the revolution and new political movement, like revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata – -who spoke in Nahuatl to his troops – – mostly indigenous freedmen and mixed-blood mestizos. The Mexican Revolution – – infused with indigenous, afro-Mexican and mixed-blood mestizo heroes and heroines–  was the real surge for freedom by indigenous people. But long before the Mexican Revolution in 1910– when the U.S. waged the Mexican-American war from 1846-1848 — Mexico’s first Indigenous President, Benito Juarez, a Zapotec Indian (and one of Mexico’s greatest statesmen), faced the threat of Napoleon and the Catholic Church.

The battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, marks an unlikely victory by the Mexican underdogs over the worlds strongest army; the French. It was the first of many battles that would lead to the ousting of France from Mexico. This was not the first battle that Mexico would encounter to define the future of its people, on its own terms, nor the last. That battle remains today.

Today, in Moorhead, Minnesota, our Cinco de Mayo battle is for our Mexican cultural center – – Centro Cultural. It is our cry of resistance. It is more than the commercial market would make of it. Cinco de Mayo is being redefined by us today as a day to take back our sovereignty; our right to define ourselves. It’s a significant day whenever we get to show our pride in our heritage and speak up for what we believe in.

To join our fight to occupy our Cultural Center  – – Centro Cultural – – visit our Facebook event page:

You can also find Mexi-can on Facebook at

For more background on the struggle for the preservation of Mexican culture and heritage — visit:

Questions and comments:

Cindy Gomez-Schempp

VP of the People’s Press Project

A media justice non-profit

Ph:: 218. 443.1033



Twitter: @Media_PPP
Facebook: The People’s Press Project
Youtube: ThePPPmedia

Last Real Indians