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Mexicans Mark Cinco De Mayo With Parade

May 6, 2004

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Mexico celebrated the 142nd anniversary of its victory over French forces Wednesday with a parade, battlefield reenactments and cries of ``Viva Mexico!″

The Cinco de Mayo holiday commemorates the May 5, 1862, defeat of French soldiers and their Mexican collaborators who advanced on the city of Puebla, 65 miles southwest of Mexico City.

The battle was indecisive, however. Troops sent by Napoleon III stormed Mexico City a year later, forcing the government of President Benito Juarez to flee.

Nonetheless, ``The national forces covered themselves in glory,″ President Vicente Fox said Wednesday during military ceremonies in Puebla. ``The heroes of Puebla honored their flag and wrote a definitive page in national history.″ Accompanying Fox was Mexican Defense Secretary Ricardo Vega Garcia.

Cinco de Mayo is not an official holiday in Mexico, but many government employees take the day off and banks are closed.

Annual celebrations also took place in Mexico City, but were most fervent in Puebla. Sword bearing re-enactors paraded down Cinco de Mayo Avenue, the city’s central thoroughfare, dressed in 19th Century French military regalia or as straw-hatted peasants, emphasizing Mexico’s underdog status at the time of the victory.

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