Today in the Americas, the murder of Pancho Villa

pancho villa

Today in 1923 (76 years ago) Mexican Revolutionary Pancho Villa was murdered.

Born into poverty, obscurity, and in the blind-eye of the nepotistic Porfiriato Mexico, Doroteo Arango, known as Pancho Villa, rose to lead quite a life. He rose to commander of the División del Norte. He was hunted by John Pershing. He became governor of Chihuahua in 1913. He stood before a firing squad just before he had his sentence commuted. Provided reporter John Reed with indispensable stories. And he sat with Emiliano Zapata in the president’s chair in Mexico City, flirting with wholesale social revolution and unbridled power – but letting it go.

After the revolution, Villa tried to settle down but in 1923 was ambushed in Parral, Chihuahua. He was driving the city in his black 1919 Dodge roadster when seven gunmen pounded Villa’s car with 150 shots in two minutes. As a part of the legend, Villa is said to have killed one of the gunmen before he died of twenty gunshots, four to the head. His tomb has been vandalized, robbed, and there are three separate places of rest devoted to Villa.

Pancho Villa has, like Zapata, joined the pantheon of Mexican heroes. His forays into the United States, which prompted Pershing’s manhunt, are still the stuff of legend. His reputation, more than Zapata, has lived on through films and other imaginings in of the gringo mind – the latest in the works is for Johnny Depp to play Villa in a film called “Seven Friends of Pancho Villa and the Woman With Six Fingers.” Our Hollywood representations aside, Villas role in the Mexican Revolution, won and lost, is essential to Mexico’s history and it’s future.


~ by Daniel on July 20, 2009.

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