Pancho Villa

by Guisselle Espinoza

Pancho Villa's life was not easy to cope with. He was raised as a poor child. As he was growing up he faced many hard issues, like the death of his father and having to be the man of the house.He tried his best to support his family by doing many tasks.Villa learned to shoot with deadly accuracy at a young age. By the time he was sixteen he was forced to become a fugitive, taking to the mountains like a wild animal.

Pancho Villa was born on June 5,1878 at the Hacienda de Rio Grande, San Juan del Rio, state of Durango, Mexico.He was named Doroteo Arango by his parents Augustine Arango and Micaela Arambula. At the age of twelve Villa's dad died, leaving him as head of the family with his mother, two younger brothers and two younger sisters to support. Later he joined a band of outlaws. It was at this time that Doroteo Arango took the name of Pancho Villa (the original Pancho Villa was a notorious Mexican outlaw of the early nineteenth century).

His reason for becoming a fugitive was due to the killing of the son of the patron, in revenge for the rape of his sister. He had to hunt, steal, and hide during the day, and travel at night. Villa managed to survive. There were times he found work as a cowboy on the range or in the city of Chihuahua, but for what he did,he had to avoid capture. Then he finally joined a band of outlaws led by Ignacio Parra. When Parra was killed, Villa struck out on his own, accompanied by several members of the band who were to stay with him through the years. Villa the bandit became widely known along the border,terrorizing the wealthy and sharing his own loot and wealth with peon families he encountered. He had the reputation of being a "Mexican Robin Hood".

By 1908, Villa was recognized as the chief bandit throughout the states of Durango, Sonora, and Chihuahua. At this time the revolt aganist the dictatorship of President Porfirio Diaz. Fransico I. Madero, a member of a wealthy and prominent family, became a champion of the people. Madero traveled the countryside taking the message of "No ninth self-elected term for Porfirio Daiz, free ballot, restoration of the stolen land to Mexico's landless millions." This short bearded, unprepossessing Madero lit the sparks of hope to his listeners heart that flared, then flamed into the long, bloody revolution that was to engulf Mexico.

Shortly after the anti-relectionist party nominated Madero as their presidential candidate in April, 1910, Madero was arrested and imprisoned.

One of the strongest supporters of Madero's cause was Abraham Gonzales in the state of Chihuahua. Gonzales recruited guerrilla leaders who could command a following, and sent for Villa in the fall of 1910. He explained, in terms that Pancho could understand, Madero's ideas for democracy. Villa was impressed when he learned, that for daring to oppose Diaz, Madero had been imprisoned, the meeting that Villa had with Gonzales marked a turning point in Pancho Villa's life.

Early in October Madero escaped or was released from imprisonment. He later established himself as a Provisional President of Mexico. On November 20, 1910, he issued his "Plan of San Luis Potosi," calling for an uprising through Mexico. The people responded their battle cry of Tierra y Liberated (Land and Liberty) Villa recruited several hundred followers, when he received word from Gonzales, the time was here. He was immediately attacked a small town of San Andres, Chihuahua and easily realized his first of many victories. In the name of Madero and the revolution. There followed a series of small victories and defeats for the Insurrectionsist.

Peace Grove was the camp Villa was commissioned Colonel. After a two day battle, (May 9-10, 1911). The revolution led be several men including Villa,, took Juarez from the federals.The capture and posseion was enough to sweep President Diaz into exile and Madero to the presidency of Mexico.

Soon after Villa entered a private life in Chihuahua city, operating a butcher shop. However in March 1912, Madro told Villa to go with Huerta. He did so reluctantly. Huerta said that he was to be executed at Jimenez on June 3, 1912. But thanks to other people Villa was sent to the Mexican penitentiary in Mexico city. In December of 1912 Villa escaped and made his way to El Paso. On February 22, 1913, the shocking news of Madero's betrayal and assassination got to where Pancho was living at the time. Several days later it was reported that Gonzales, the governer of Chihuahua had also been murdered. Villa was blamed for both massacres which he had nothing to do with.

 

On July 28, 1920, Villa laid down his arms and signed a pact of peace, under president de la Huerta. He was given a large estate, rancho Canutillo, generous funds to repair, stock and equip it, pensions for himself and his 500 Dorados. On July 23, 1923, after only 3 years of retirement as a farmer, Villa and his bodyguard were ambushed and shot to death as they left Parral to drive to Canutillo. There were many reasons for his death. It was said that as long as Pancho Villa lived there was always danger of a new uprising among the people, that they might rally around him as a challenge to the government.

 

The stories of Pancho Villa did not die with his death. In 1926 his grave was broken into and his head was cut off and removed. For the November 20, 1976 annual celebration of Madero's proclamation of independence, president Echeverria had general Villa's body taken from the cemetery in Parral and entombed in the monument of the Mexican Revolution in Mexico City, beside the other Mexican heroes.

The names of those others tend to fade into history, but not Pancho Villa's. He lives on, lusty, vital, controversial, in the folklore, the campfire songs, the myths and legends, as his restless, rebellious spirit still rides the dusty winds of Chihuahua. Savior or sinner, brutal killer or Robin Hood, people vividly remember Pancho Villa.

Pancho Villa poses for a picture in Mexico City with his fellow revolutionary from the south, Emiliano Zapata

 

Return to All Projects Home