Happy Cinco de Mayo, in which we celebrate El Día de la Batalla de Puebla — the day of the Battle of Puebla.
As we celebrate this great occasion on Saturday, we do so with solemn hearts over the loss of a friend and journalistic colleague, Robert L. “Bob” Armendariz. The editor, founder and publisher of Hispania News — a bilingual newspaper that served the Pikes Peak region — Armendariz died of natural causes on Wednesday at age 69.
Armendariz, a military-intelligence veteran, was a well-known advocate for the Hispanic community. He was so respected in the journalistic field that he headed the Colorado Springs Press Association for many years, while giving his time to serve on a variety of community boards and committees. He died on the eve of publication of the 25th anniversary edition of Hispania News. Friends and family rallied to make sure it rolled off the presses as planned.
“Not only a strong advocate for our Hipanic community, Bob was a good friend to the city,” said Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach, in a prepared statement. “I saw him everywhere, he came to many different events and functions and wanted to contribute in a positive way to the improvement of our city. He will be sorely missed.”
What Armendariz would want today is for his family, friends and the greater community to celebrate Mexican heritage, culture and pride, along with the cause of freedom — which is what Cinco de Mayo stands for.
Today’s festivities — up and down the Front Range, throughout Colorado, the United States and parts of Mexico — commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces in 1862, under General Zaragoza Seguin.
In the aftermath of the Mexican-American war of 1846-48, the Mexican Civil War of 1858, and the 1860 Reform Wars, Mexico was understandably broke. That’s because wars are destructive to wealth and contribute almost nothing to prosperity. In 1861, Mexican President Benito Juárez suspended all debt payments for two years because the country simply lacked the ability to pay. France, Britain and Spain, each a creditor, responded by sending naval forces to Veracruz to demand payment. Spain and Britain renegotiated debts and withdrew. France, ruled by Napoleon III, refused to negotiate and used the opportunity to establish a political and military empire in Mexico. Later that year, the 8,000-strong French Army attacked the Mexican army, which had half the troops of the invading French forces. The Mexicans were poorly equipped and lacked much of the sophistication of the French invaders. The will for freedom can never be underestimated, as proved when Mexican forces in the state of Puebla crushed what was considered the world’s finest army at the time.
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When we celebrate this battle of liberation, we celebrate the willingness of our great neighbors to the south to fight and die for liberty — much like Americans have given their lives for more than 200 years to maintain the sovereignty of this great nation.
Give thanks for freedom on this day, and keep in your prayers a great Hispanic American, Bob Armendariz, and the family, friends, colleagues and community that loved and respected him.
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