The observance of Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Battle of Puebla on the 5th of May, 1862, during which a hastily-assembled and numerically-inferior force of Mexican patriots, led by Ignacio Zaragoza, defeated a numerically-superior, better-equipped, professional force of French soldiers who were supporting the imperialist policy of Napoleon III of France. The French army at that time was extremely formidable and had a reputation of invincibility.
Imperialism can be defined as the practice of taking the land and resources that have been given by the gods (or, if you prefer, by nature) to the men and women of one land and, through forms of coercion, appropriating them for the benefit by of another group, rather than for the benefit of the men and women to whom those resources were given.
In his essential 2017 book J is for Junk Economics: A Guide to Reality in an Age of Deception, Professor Michael P. Hudson has an entry on imperialism which reads in part:
The first and most brutal form of imperialism was military conquest. The object was to seize land and natural resources. The next step was [for the conqueror] to tax the population and extract land rent, turning the conquered territory into a colony, raising money to pay [the taxes imposed on them] by producing exports desired at home -- especially raw materials. Britain's colonial system is the classic example. It aimed to achieve imperial self-sufficiency in raw materials and money, while making colonies and other countries dependent on the resources it provided. 123
In his 1972 book Super Imperialism: the Origins and Fundamentals of U.S. World Dominance, Professor Hudson explains how the united states, once a group of colonies who had chafed at the imperial system imposed by Britain, became the world's dominant practitioner of imperialism following World War II:
Europe's industrial nations would open their doors and permit U.S. investors to buy in to the extractive industries of their former colonies, especially into Near Eastern oil. These less developed regions would provide the United States with raw materials rather than working them up into their own manufactures to compete with U.S. industry. They would purchase a rising stream of American foodstuffs and manufactures, especially those produced by the industries whose productive capacities had expanded greatly during the war. The resulting U.S. trade surplus would provide the foreign exchange to enable American investors to buy up the most productive resources of the world's industry, mining and agriculture. 10 - 11 (quoted from the Second Edition, published in 2003).
Note a pdf version of extended selections from Super Imperialism is available at Professor Hudson's website: the above quotation can be found on page 22 of that pdf version.
Super Imperialism goes on to explain that the united states policy has been to deliberately undermine agricultural self-sufficiency and food independence in countries rich in coveted natural resources, in order to coerce those countries into purchasing agricultural exports from the united states and pay for them by selling off the rights to the natural resources given to the targeted country by nature (or, as I would say, given to those men and women by the gods).
Professor Hudson explains that if countries rich in natural resources are allowed to be self-sufficient, they might decide to conserve those assets rather than exporting them:
Mineral assets represent diminishing assets. It is in the interest of developing peoples to conserve such assets for their own ultimate use in manufacturing industries, as these develop within the borders of nations rich in raw materials but backward in general development. In the short run such domestic use of mineral resources is not possible because of inadequate industrial capital and consumer markets. 213
He then points out that such inadequate capital could be overcome, if for example "World Bank loans and technical assistance" were used "to foster agricultural self-sufficiency among these peoples." Such self-sufficiency would enable the men and women of those nations, to whom nature (or the gods) had given those natural resources in the first place, to decide whether or not to sell those resources to foreign governments and foreign corporations, or to use them for their own domestic purposes, or some combination of the two of their own choosing:
Thereafter, exportation of fuels and minerals would become a matter of choice by these peoples, not a necessity. Such export might continue at current levels; it might increase, or it might diminish. The decision to conserve or to dissipate exhaustible resources would be autonomous, a matter of choice by these peoples and their governments, not something imposed on them from outside. The decision about desirable levels of population also would be a local matter, not something demanded among the terms on which capital resources are obtained from foreign suppliers. The peoples now dependent would escape that trap. This is not intended or desired by the World Bank or by the U.S. Government and its client regimes. 213 - 214
Note very closely what Professor Hudson avers in this passage: those pursuing a policy of imperialism (or hyper-imperialism) are not at all interested in the ability of the men and women of a targeted nation to have their own autonomy in deciding what to do with the resources given to them by nature.
In other words, imperialists are not at all interested in promoting self-sufficiency, nor in promoting "democracy," if democracy means enabling the men and women of a nation to make their own decisions about the use of their country's own natural resources. This fact can be seen quite plainly in the ongoing (and recently-intensifying) attempts to overthrow the democratically-elected government of Venezuela in order to seize their country's abundant natural resources by instituting "regime change."
Returning to the definition of "imperialism" offered in Michael Hudson's J is for Junk Economics, the passage goes on to explain that:
Modern imperialism is largely financial. Armies are no longer needed to appropriate foreign real estate, natural resources or public infrastructure. Financial dependency makes debtor countries subject to IMF and World Bank "conditionalities" imposing austerity that forces them to pay creditors by selling off their public domain. This transfers assets to the United States and other creditor powers, while avoiding overt colonialism's expensive military overhead.
U.S. diplomats seek to consolidate American financial power by sharing gains with local client oligarchies that remain in the dollarized financial system and adopt neoliberal Washington Consensus policies. Pinochet-style "regime change" is mounted against countries that try to protect their political and financial independence by creating or joining rival currency blocs and banking systems (e.g., Libya and Syria). 123 - 124
In other words, when financial coercion does not cause targeted countries to submit to imperialist arrangements, then those countries will be targeted for "regime change." The term "local client oligarchies" refers to those who collaborate with the imperialists to sell out the natural resources of their nation -- given to the entire country by the gods (or, if you prefer, by nature) -- in exchange for a piece of the action, taking for a few the benefits of the resources given to all the men and women permitted by heaven to be born in that country.
It is primarily the members of these "local client oligarchies" who are collaborating now with the attempts to enact "regime change" in Venezuela, although the majority of the population clearly stands in opposition to the naked attempts to remove the elected government.
Below is a map of known world crude oil reserves which demonstrates the riches in natural resources coveted by those seeking regime change in Venezuela, which was included in this article on the situation written by former British diplomat turned activist and whistleblower Craig Murray and which was originally published here.
Returning to the subject of Cinco de Mayo and the resistance to naked imperialism by Mexico in the 1800s, note that Mexico also has large reserves of crude oil, and that Mexico's agricultural self-sufficiency was also deliberately demolished during the second half of the twentieth century under the same formula of hyper-imperialism described by Professor Hudson in the quotations above.
Targeted nations are flooded with inexpensive agricultural produce from the united states until their own domestic farmers are destroyed (many of whom have then been forced to find work elsewhere, including in the united states as immigrant workers), and a dependent relationship is established which forces the privatization of the natural resources and utilities of the targeted country.
The observance of Cinco de Mayo, then, which may be an even bigger celebration in the united states than in Mexico (beginning apparently in California in 1863, the year after the victory at Puebla over the French army), should be understood in the context of resistance to the ongoing scourge of imperialism and the seizure of that which was given by nature (or the gods) to the people -- and as a commemoration of an unlikely victory against the forces of imperialism by a brave force of Mexican patriots in the face of one of the most powerful military imperial powers on earth at that time.
If the men and women of the united states, vast numbers of whom of all backgrounds and walks of life celebrate Cinco de Mayo each year, could understand how imperialist policies inevitably lead to the immiseration of huge numbers of people around the world, as well as to financial dependence upon a "global cosmopolitan class" (as Professor Hudson demonstrates in his books Super Imperialism and J is for Junk Economics) they could end this incredibly destructive and unethical system.
Feliz Cinco de Mayo!
Below is a song by one of the most-beloved singers of Mexican ranchera (or nortena) music, Jose Alfredo Jimenez (1926 - 1973): "El Rey" — the lyrics of which can, in light of the above discussion against imperialism, be seen as proclaiming that the people are the king.
The singer declares that although he appears down and out and has none of the traditional trappings of wealth or power, he is nevertheless El Rey : ". . . y mi palabra es la ley!" — which, translated, means and my word is the law, which is true in a democracy and should be seen as a rallying cry against imperialism everywhere, and the against kind of regime change currently being attempted in Venezuela.