1. c) A ragtag collection of Mexican soldiers defeated the larger, better-equipped French army in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.
2. a) France responded to the 1862 defeat by dispatching more soldiers and, in 1863, installing Archduke Maximilian of Austria as ruler over Mexico. Maximilian was overthrown in May 1867 and executed a month later.
3. b) Mexico had declared a moratorium on paying off its national debt, amassed in the costly decades marked by Texas' struggle for independence (1836), the Mexican-American War (1846-48) and the Mexican civil war of 1858. Spain, Britain and France, the biggest creditors, came across the Atlantic to collect, but Spain and Britain backed off when it became clear that France intended to claim Mexican territory for Napoleon III.
4. d) A holiday throughout Mexico, it is celebrated most intensely in Puebla, where the battlefield is now a park. But the celebrations are often larger, and certainly more commercial, in the United States, especially Texas and other border states.
Lorenzo Cano, associate director of the Center for Mexican-American Studies at the University of Houston, notes several reasons for the U.S. interest, including the Chicano movement of the 1960s and 1970s, which pressured schools and other institutions to recognize other cultures; changing demographics, with increased numbers of Hispanics in Texas and elsewhere in the United States; and the decision by beer companies and other business interests to treat Cinco de Mayo as a marketing opportunity.
5. b) Zaragoza, born in what is now the Texas city of Goliad, led his outnumbered Mexican soldiers to improbable victory against Napoleon's professionally trained and equipped army. The battle came to symbolize Mexican pride and courage against daunting odds; it also was the beginning of the end of the European occupation of the Americas.
6. c) The U.S. Civil War was raging when French soldiers arrived in Mexico. Some historians contend Napoleon III wanted to occupy Mexico to counter the United States' growing power, knowing the United States would be unable to respond.
The 1862 defeat at Puebla sidetracked the French, who might otherwise have arrived at the Mexican-U.S. border in time to help the Confederate army while victory still seemed within the Confederates' grasp. Whether that actually would have happened is anyone's guess. "It's an intriguing historical question," Cano says.
By the time French reinforcements arrived and the takeover of Mexico was complete, the tide north of the Rio Grande had turned, with the Confederate defeat apparently assured.
7. b) Juárez was Mexico's first indigenous president, a Zapotec Indian, at a time when mestizos, people of mixed Spanish and Indian descent, were rising to power.
8. a) The conservatives, who had traditionally wielded power in Mexico, resisted liberal reforms imposed by Juárez and welcomed the troubles the French invasion brought for Juárez's liberal government.