Cinco de Mayo and Great Foreclosure Defenses in History

Happy Cinco de Mayo! A great day (despite the heavy rain here in Connecticut) to celebrate Mexican culture, eat great food, drink, sing, be upbeat.

And, of course, celebrate perhaps the greatest foreclosure defense in world history.

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Thanks to the internet and social media, most people now know that Cinco de Mayo isn’t Mexican Independence Day. As a matter of fact, if you don’t know that, tweet “Hey, it’s Mexican Independence Day,” to be gently informed differently.

The 5th marks the Battle of Puebla in 1862 between French and Mexican forces in which a rag tag Mexican army of 2,000 routed a French army – and a division of the Foreign Legion – of 8,000.

That’s right, the French and Mexican armies fought a series of battles in the middle of our Civil War that eventually resulted in a French installed government ruling Mexico until 1866.

“Well, great, Sarah, thanks for the history lesson, it’ll probably be worth a drink or two in a bar trivia contest some day, but what does this have to do with debt?”

Everything, actually. Napoleon III’s invasion and eventual take-over of Mexico was, in fact, perhaps the largest straight-out foreclosure action in history.

After the Mexican-American War, a war that cost Mexico an enormous chunk of territory and vast sums of money, Mexico went through a series of revolutions and civil wars.

By 1861, Mexico was mired in debt and was forced to suspend payments on its foreign debt. With the Civil War raging in the United States, Mexico’s European creditors didn’t have to worry about the Monroe Doctrine. The British and Spanish sent naval forces to Vera Cruz to register their displeasure, they quickly negotiated new repayment schedules. The French, however, were not so easily appeased (or maybe the new payment schedules with Spain and Britain left little for the French), they called their notes and invaded to take possession.

Cinco de Mayo was a successful debt defense worth celebrating. It should be noted, however, that while it was a spectacular upset, the victory was fleeting and Mexico was, in effect, repossessed by the French for four very miserable years.

It was the military equivalent of firing off a strongly worded letter to a creditor, filing a complaint with the BBB, very satisfactually slamming the phone down on the subsequent toll free call, then watching the creditor exploit a rare loophole and still repossess your car.

Still, Puebla showed what people fighting for their home can do. As can you.

Still, I – and I hope my clients – have more reasons that tequila, great food and good company to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. It’s somehow . . . empowering.

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