Pancho Villa

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Pancho Villa or José Doroteo Arango Arámbula was one of the foremost leaders and best known generals of the 1910-1920 Mexican Revolution. He served as the provisional governor of the Mexican state of Chihuahua in 1913 and 1914. Villa and his army of cowboy revolutionaries called Division del norte or "The "Division Of The North" operated across the states of northern Mexico. Adding to his heroic image, Villa's elite cavalry and bodyguards were known as Los dorados or The Golden Ones). Less romantically, his army also made extensive use of railroads and motor vehicles.

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Mexico's Jesse James

"Hated by thousands and loved by millions," Villa since his death has become enshrouded in so much myth it is difficult to know what is true and what is legend. In Mexico numerous streets and neighborhoods are named for Villa.

Redistribution

Responding to the extreme poverty of most people in Mexico under Presidente Diaz, Villa's ardent supporters or Villistas expropriated the landed estates of the rich (some of which the acreage bordering on millions) for distribution to peasants and villista soldiers. Although Villa spoke of creating communal military colonies for his ex-soldiers, his revoltuionary aims (unlike those of Emiliana Zapata) other than redistribution of wealth were never fully articulated.

Villa's expropriations included 800,000 acres of Mexican timberland owned by newspaper baron William Randolf Hearst. Hearst, using his newspaper empire to construct the image of the lazy, degenerate, violent, job-stealing Mexican in the American public opinion. Hearst's newspapers hyped the Mexican threat just as they had hyped the Spanish American War.

Columbus Raid

On March 9, 1916, Villa led 1,500 of his troops across the border into the United States in a attack on Columbus, New Mexico. Some buildings in the the small town were buildings and as many as 18 people were killed. This provided the excuse for the admisnitration of Woodrow Wilson to send a punitive expedition inot northern Mexico.

References

  • Larry A. Harris. 1949. Pancho Villa and the Columbus Raid.
  • Eric R. Wolf. 1969. Peasant Wars of the Twentieth Century. Red River Books. ISBN 0806131969. Pp. 16-17.

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