Pancho Villa Historical Background


Pancho Villa

Doroteo Arango, later known as Pancho Villa, was the son of a sharecropper at a hacienda in Durango (San Juan Del Rio). Throughout his childhood, Pancho experienced the austerity of peasant life. During this era, the rich maintained their social class by exploiting the poor. When he turned 15 his father died thus he started working as a sharecropper to tend to his mother and his four siblings. In 1894, young Pancho found a member of the López Negrete clan trying to rape his sibling, Martina. Pancho saved his sibling by shooting the guy on the foot and escaping to the mountains. While in exile, Pancho linked with a band of outlaws and rose to the status of leadership through his callousness and valor (Englar, 56).

By the year 1896, Pancho and the bandits committed crimes against the wealthy in the society and often gave the poor the things that they had managed to steal from the rich. The poor people in the society considered Pancho as the Mexican Robin Hood. It is in this period that Doroteo Arango decided to adopt the name Pancho Villa. His prowess of evading arrest and notoriety as a bandit leader grasped the attention of a group of people who were planning an uprising. The group of men realized that Pancho’s expertise would prove to be useful in guerrilla fights during the uprising. The president of Mexico at that time, Porfirio Diaz, was considered the source of the problems that faced the country and Francisco Madero vowed to bring positive change. Pancho joined Madero’s crusade and consented to lead the radical army.

From 1910 to 1911 Pancho assumed the active role of radical army leadership. However, later on in the year, 1911 Pancho resigned due to differences that he shared with Pascual Orozco, another commander in the radical army. Pancho tied the knot in the same year with Maria Luz Corral. No sooner had Madero won the revolution and gained control of the country as a formal president, did political unrest sprout again. Orozco acting out of spite that he had been frozen out of his rightful spot in Madero’s government challenged the president by starting yet another insurgency in 1912.

Pancho responded to this by coming out of retirement, gathering an army and liaising with Huerta to back up Madero. Later on, in 1912, Huerta called for Pancho’s execution since he claimed that Pancho had stolen horses. Madero granted amnesty for Pancho although he still went to jail. Pancho remained in jail for seven months before he escaped in late 1912.

In 1913, Huerta claimed the presidency of Mexico after managing to kill Madero. Pancho responded to this by liaising with Venustiano Carranza to resist Huerta’s reign. The next several years proved to be a success to Pancho since he won all his battles. Through his resistance, Pancho managed to gain control of the northern areas of Mexico including Chihuahua. Pancho consumed a greater portion of his time in stabilizing the economy and reallocating land to the less fortunate in the community (Quintana, 102). In 1914, Pancho became enemies with Carranza. The U.S. intervened in the war between the two parties by supporting Carranza. In 1916, Pancho launched a military offensive on Columbus in New Mexico. This attack was the first one launched on American soil since the one in 1812. The U.S. hunted Pancho for several months with no success.

In early 1920, Carranza was assassinated leading to Huerta official crowning as the interim president. Huerta’s course was peaceful thus he extended an olive branch to Pancho by negotiating for his retirement from political activism. A peace agreement was reached by the two parties that stipulated that Pancho would be given a hacienda in Chihuahua in exchange for his retirement. Thus in 1920, Pancho officially retired from revolutionary life until his assassination in 1923.


Works Cited

Englar, Mary. Pancho Villa, Rebel of the Mexican Revolution. Mankato, Minn: Capstone Press, 2006.

Quintana, Alejandro. Pancho Villa: A Biography. Santa Barbara, Calif: Greenwood, 2012.


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