The Mexican/French "Pastry War" of 1838.
Santa Ana was a liability to Mexico
It Was a Regular Bun Fight!
The Mexico/France Pastry War of 1838.
Just after Mexican dictator, Santa Ana, lost Texas at the Battle of Jacinto River, another problem arrived in the shape of an aggrieved France which was trying to cement trade deals with Mexico.
The French were “outraged,” or pretending to be so, after the riots of 1828 in Mexico City where the Parian Market was ransacked and burned, destroying several foreign businesses, some being French.
Mexico was presented with a bill of 600,000 pesos for damages suffered by French traders, along with a preferential trade agreement for France with Mexico.
One of the claims was on behalf of a Tacubaya baker whose shop had had 60,000 pesos worth of bread and cakes plundered. (This was an extraordinary amount when you consider the average pay for a peon back then was one peso a day). Presidente Bustamente was outraged by this claim and refused to pay it.
The French Baron Deffaudis acted outraged and disgusted at this trenchant behaviour (he had actually only wanted the trade agreement ratified), so he summoned the French fleet from Martinique to blockade the Port of Veracruz until the impasse could be resolved.
The blockade had dragged-on 7 long months when the Baron was replaced by the admiral commanding the fleet, Admiral Baudin, who unwisely increased the demand by another 200,000 pesos!
Bustamente finally relented over the original 600,000 pesos demand, but refused to pay the amount levied for the blockade bill, and, more importantly for France, refused to sign any preferential trade agreement.
Next, for no good reason except French national bullying, the good admiral began to bombard Veracruz!
The trusty Santa Ana, one of the saddest and most damaging characters in Mexico’s history, was taking his ease in a nearby hacienda and recovering from his ignominious defeat at the hands of Houston and the Texan wild men. He heard the sound of the explosions coming to him from the port area. He strapped on his army sabre, which may have dragged on the ground, the dictator was so short in stature, was hoisted aboard his white stallion, and, Quixote-like, clattered off towards the ocean. Hold your horses, Santa Ana is manning the breech again! His associates must have shuddered.
As the bombardment had ceased at his arrival, and the sun made for a sweltering day in Vera Cruz, he called into a friend’s house to have a siesta before his offices would be required. How one dingbat with a sword planned to stop the French fleet apparently never entered his muddled pate.
At that moment, however - probably acting on information - a French landing party advanced on the very house where Santa Ana took his ease.
In a panic to avoid capture, Santa Ana leaped through a window in his underwear and made off down the street, madly waving his sabre which he had had the presence of mind to grab.
He managed to get some clothes from more friends as the French had given up and were returning to their ship. That didn’t stop Quixote Ana from jumping aboard his Rocinante and charged toward the dock and the retreating French. It’s a wonder they could row for laughing.
But Santa Ana’s good fairy had deserted him again, as a cannon ball came whistling into him, neatly removing his right leg and causing him to faint dead away from shock. His friends carried him into a nearby house and surgeons were summoned from Mexico City.
In front of the usual gaggle of hand-wringing and weeping women, and men stoically hiding their emotion, the dictator dictated a long report to the nation which promptly forgave his the debacle at San Jacinto. He became the “Hero of Vera Cruz!”
The doctors successfully amputated his leg - an unfortunate success for Mexico as it would turn out.
The pompous little dictator then buried the leg, among much ceremony, at Magna de Clavo!
Bustamante had had enough; he agreed to pay the full amount demanded by France, the Fleet made away and wags have named the incident the “Pastry War” (“Guerra de los Pasteles“ Sp.) ever since.
France may have won the day over this incident, but they would never enjoy good relations in Mexico, whose people have long memories and dislike foreigners on their land telling them what to do. But that’s all another story.
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