In 1861, Mexicans had enormous financial debts with Spain, Britain, and France. In December of 1861 the governments of France, Great Britain and Spain landed an allied military force at Vera Cruz to protect their interests in Mexico and to try to collect the debts owed to their citizens. Juárez negotiated with the allies and promised to resume payments, and the British and Spanish troops began to withdraw from Mexico. Meanwhile France had demanded £10,000,000 repayment from the Mexican government. Spain and Great Britain thought the amount outrageous. Additionally, rumours were in the air that Napoleon III designed to make Mexico a French colony. Mexico stopped all their payments. In response, France attacked Mexico to force payment of this debt. France decided that it would try to take over and occupy Mexico. Count de Lorencez, a graduate of Saint Cyr military academy, was the leader of the French forces who was successful at first in its invasion; however, on May 5, 1862, at the city of Puebla, Mexican forces were able to defeat an attack by the larger French army. In the Battle of Puebla, the Mexicans were led by General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. Although the Mexican army was victorious over the French at Puebla, the victory only delayed the French advance on Mexico City.
A year later, the French occupied Mexico City. The French occupying forces placed Archduke Maximilian of Austria on the throne of Mexico in June 1864. The French, under pressure from the United States, who cited the archaic Monroe Doctrine, eventually withdrew in 1866-1867. Maximilian was deposed by President Benito Juarez and executed, five years after the Battle of Puebla.
With increasing immigration north into the United States,[ Apart from Arizona ! ] Cinco de Mayo has taken on significance beyond that in Mexico. The date is perhaps best recognized as a date to celebrate the culture and experiences of Mexican – Americans , much as Oktoberfest, and the Chinese New Year are used to celebrate those of German, and Chinese ancestry. In the Cayman Islands, there is an annual Cinco de Mayo air guitar competition and on the Mediterranean island of Malta, revelers are encouraged to drink Mexican beer on May 5.