Thursday, June 5, 2014

Pancho Villa: Mexican Robin Hood?

It is the birthday of Mexican hero Pancho Villa (1878), who led revolutionaries in northern Mexico for a decade beginning in 1910. The result of the conflict was the Mexican Constitution of 1917, which established social rights for the country’s citizens. Villa, whose real name was José Doroto Arango Arámbula, robbed trains and raided haciendas to support the cause. He virtually ran the state of Chihuahua, which provided him with resources to conduct his war.

When he crossed the border and raided Columbus, New Mexico, in 1916, that got the attention of the United States government. General John J. Pershing chased him for nine months but never captured him. Then the United States got into World War I and Gen. Pershing was needed elsewhere. Villa retired in 1920 and received a large estate, which he set up as a colony for his former soldiers. Three years later, Villa got involved with politics again and was assassinated.

Here is a fascinating program, The Hunt for Pancho Villa, from The American Experience with vintage film footage. Pancho Villa is depicted is either a Mexican Robin Hood or a common criminal.

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