Pancho Villa: The True Story of Mexico’s Robin Hood Through Old Photos


One-time outlaw Francisco "Pancho" Villa became one of the most famous generals of the Mexican Revolution and earned a reputation as a champion of the underprivileged.

His story is an interesting blend of rebellion, heroism and the constant pursuit of justice for the poor.

The Mexican Revolution broke out in 1910, overthrowing the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz. However, the outcome was unsettling.

Francisco Madero, the leader of the revolution, succeeded Díaz as president, but in 1913 he was assassinated by former ally-turned-enemy Victoriano Huerta.

This incident escalated the conflict, with various rebel groups vying for power. One such group was the División del Norte, led by Pancho Villa.

Villa, known for his dedication to the poor, had previously formed alliances with both Madero and Huerta.

However, Huerta accused Villa of theft, resulting in Villa's imprisonment. Although Madero saved him from execution, Villa remained imprisoned as Huerta took control.

Huerta became the new dictator after Madero's death. Villa escaped from prison and, along with another revolutionary, Venustiano Carranza, tried to overthrow Huerta.

By 1914, they succeeded in removing Huerta from power. However, conflict between the revolutionaries continued.

Villa clashed with Carranza before the revolution ended and became an enemy in both Mexico and the United States.

Villa was the son of a farm laborer and was orphaned at an early age.

In revenge for the attack on his sister, he murdered one of the owners of the estate he worked on and was subsequently forced to flee to the mountains, where he spent his adolescence as a fugitive. Spent in.

Pancho Villa spent nearly six years hiding in the mountains and eventually became the leader of a bandit group.

To avoid capture, he changed his name to Francisco "Pancho" Villa. During this time he started gaining a reputation similar to Robin Hood.

As a bandit, Pancho Villa often stole cattle and money from the rich and gave it to the poor.

He did this because he knew what it was like to be poor and he saw how the rich took advantage of the poor to become even richer.

Villa gradually returned to society in Chihuahua, where he worked as a miner and sold meat. But people still saw him as a dacoit.

Everything changed for Villa when he met Abraham González, a supporter of Francisco Madero, a politician who opposed the government.

Gonzalez convinces Villa that he can fight for the people by becoming a bandit. When the Mexican Revolution began in 1910, Villa was 32 years old and ready to join the fight.

In 1910 Villa joined Francisco Madero's rebellion against Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz.

During the rebellion, Villa, who lacked formal education but had learned to read and write, displayed his talents as a soldier and organizer.

Those gifts, combined with his intimate knowledge of the land and people of northern Mexico, enabled him to place a division of trained soldiers under his command at Madero's disposal.

After the success of the Revolution, Villa remained in the irregular army.

In 1912, during the rebellion of Pascual Orozco, Villa aroused the general's suspicions.

After Madero's assassination in 1913, Villa returned to Mexico and organized a military band of several thousand men, known as the División del Norte (Division of the North).

Villa also found valuable new allies in Venustiano Carranza and Emiliano Zapata, who shared his determination to remove Huerta from power.

Since many of Villa's battles took place near the U.S.–Mexico border, he attracted the most attention from nearby Americans.

Despite once being a fugitive, Villa accepted to be photographed as a revolutionary.

He even signed a contract with Hollywood's Mutual Film Company in 1913 to ensure that his leadership in the battle would be depicted on film. Around the same time, Villa briefly served as provisional governor of Chihuahua.

By 1914, Huerta was deposed, and Carranza took over leadership of the country. However, peace was not on the horizon, and tensions would soon rise between Villa and Carranza.

Distrust and rivalry between Villa and Carranza led to a rift, forcing Villa to flee Mexico City with Emiliano Zapata in December 1914.

After suffering defeat from Carranza in several battles, Villa and Zapata took refuge in the northern mountains.

To show that Carranza did not control northern Mexico, Villa executed about 17 American civilians in Santa Isabel, Chihuahua in January 1916.

Two months later, he attacked Columbus, New Mexico, killing about 17 Americans. In response, US President Woodrow Wilson sent General John J. Sent Pershing's expedition to the area.

Despite Villa's popularity and his deep knowledge of the northern Mexican terrain, Pershing's expedition failed to capture him.

The Mexican government also opposed Pershing's presence on Mexican soil, making it impossible to capture Villa.

Villa continued his guerrilla activities as long as Carranza remained in power. After Carranza's government was overthrown in 1920, Villa was given amnesty and a farm near Parral, Chihuahua, in exchange for agreeing to retire from politics.

Three years later he was assassinated in a hail of bullets while driving home in his car from a trip to Parral. He was 45 years old.

The next day, Villa was cremated and thousands of his bereaved supporters in Parral accompanied his coffin to his burial site, while Villa's men and his close friend Canutillo remained in the Hacienda armed and ready for an attack by government troops.

Villa was probably assassinated because he was publicly talking about re-entering politics as the 1924 elections approached.

Obregón could not run for president again, so there was political uncertainty regarding presidential succession. Obregón supported fellow Sonoran General Plutarco Elías Calles for the presidency.

If Villa re-entered politics, it would complicate the political situation for Obregón and the Sonoran generals.

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