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Cinco de Mayo

Aprile 2017
Il 5 maggio è gran festa per i messicani: si celebra una storica vittoria contro i francesi. Musica, cibo, baldorie per le strade del Messico... e della California! E di tutti gli Stati Uniti in realtà, dove è divenuta una giornata dedicata alla cultura messicana. Perché i messicani negli States sono tanti e ne sono parte integrante, nonostante i muri…

di Talitha Linehan

File audio:

The Mexico US barrier. Donald Trump says he plans to build a wall
The Mexico US barrier. Donald Trump says he plans to build a wall

Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

The United States and Mexico have had complex relations for a long time, and the situation got worse when Donald Trump became the US President. But the two countries are united in one thing, and that’s the celebration of Cinco de Mayo.

the big battle

Cinco de Mayo is Spanish for “fifth of May.” It commemorates the victory of the Mexicans over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862. The battle was part of the French-Mexican war of 1861 to 1867. The Mexicans won the battle, but lost the war. However, because the French had 2,000 more troops than the Mexicans at Puebla, it was a source of enormous pride – and still is today!
Four days after the battle, on May 9th, 1862, the President of Mexico, Benito Juárez, declared the anniversary of the battle a national holiday.


California was Mexican territory until  the 1840s and obviously many Mexicans were still living there when it became part of the United States. They also started celebrating the anniversary. Today, Cinco de Mayo is a holiday in the states of Puebla and Veracruz in Mexico. And since the 1950s, it has been celebrated in many US cities.
Cinco de Mayo became really popular in the US in the 1980s. That’s when producers of beer started using it to sell their products. It first became more popular in cities with big Mexican-American populations, like Los Angeles, California, Chicago, Illinois and Houston, Texas. Then it became popular in other cities, too.


In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo continues to be a celebration of the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla. But in the United States, it has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. There are hundreds of events around the country. Many of them have traditional Mexican music, dancing and food. And many schools have special events to educate students about the day’s historical significance.
People sometimes confuse Cinco de Mayo with Mexican Independence Day. But that’s another celebration, on September 16th. 


There are more than 11 million illegal immigrants in the US, and more than 40 per cent of them are from Mexico. In 1994, the US government began building barriers on the 3,200-kilometer border between the two countries, to stop more Mexicans crossing it illegally (and to stop the importation of drugs). Today, they have built barriers on about 930 kilometres of the border. President Donald Trump wants to build a wall along the entire border, at a cost of up to $25 billion. He says that Mexico will pay for it, but the Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto, says it will not...

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