Pancho Villa was a Mexican revolutionary leader who advocated for agrarian reform and also the freedom of the poor from oppressive practices. Despite being a revolutionary leader; someone who is known to have murdered hundreds of people, he is still remembered by many as a folk hero. He orchestrated the first attack on US soil since 1812 through unleashing raids on Columbus and New Mexico in 1916. Villa was born Doreteo Arango on 5th June 1878.
Pancho was born in San Juan del Rio, Durango. While growing up, he went through lots of frustration and suffering that is associated with the lives of peasants. He grew up witnessing the oppressive culture and practices of the rich Mexicans who took advantage of the poor. In order to help support his family, Pancho began working a sharecropper.
Vila’s life of banditry began when he shot the owner of the hacienda that they lived in. At only 16 years of age, he was angered by the owner of the hacienda’s intention to rape his 12 year old sister; he then shot him and escaped into the mountains. Between the years 1894 to 1910, most of Villa’s life was spent on the run. By 1896, he had joined other bandits and even formed his own outlawed group for stealing cattle, robbing shipments of money and committing other crimes against the wealthy.
One thing about Villa’s banditry is that he often stole from the wealthy and gave the proceeds to the poor. It is during this time that he began using the name, Francisco ‘’Pancho’’ Villa. Due to his witty tactics as a bandit, Pancho grabbed the attention of some revolutionaries in Mexico. The revolutionaries had been moved by Pancho’s skills that they thought would be of great value to their guerilla way of fighting. Led by Francisco Madero, the revolutionaries approached Villa who accepted to become the leader of their army.
Since October 1910 to May 1911, Villa was a renowned revolutionary leader but resigned from command in May due to differences with another commander; Pascual Orozco Junior. In the same month, he married Maria Luz Corral in an attempt to finally settle down. However, this was not to be since Madero had become president and he had to gather troops to support him against Orozco.
In June 1912, Villa was accused of stealing a horse and ordered for execution. However, he received a reprieve from Madero who ordered that he be kept in prison from June to December 1912 when he fled. While Pancho was away, Huerta had killed Madero and claimed presidency. Villa was angered and aligned himself with Venustiano Carranza to fight Huerta.
The two split in the summer of 1914, dragging the country to a civil war. The US chose to side with Carranza; a move that pushed Pancho to unleash an attack on the town of Columbus, New Mexico. The US spent over a year in search of Pancho to avail; he retired from revolutionary life in 1920. On July 20th 1923, Villa was gunned down in his car.
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