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 History of Francisco "Pancho" Villa

Pancho Villa Pancho Villa was born Doroteo Arangol in Durango on June 5, 1878, the son of a field labourer. As an adolescent Villa became a fugitive after killing a man who assaulted his sister. Fleeing to the mountains, he changed his name and became a bandit.

In 1910 he joined the rebellion led by Francisco Madero, which was successful. When Madero was assassinated in 1913 Villa formed an army several thousand strong which came to be known as the Division del Norte - the Division of the North. He fought on the side of Venustiano Carranza and the Constitutionalists against the new dictator, General Victoriano Huerta.

They won a decisive victory in June 1914 and entered Mexico City in triumph. However, the rivalry between Villa and Carranza caused a schism and Villa had to flee to North Mexico, but continued in guerilla warfare.

Famous pose of Pancho Villa

In 1916 Villa killed 16 American citizens in Santa Isabel and attacked Columbus in New Mexico, and President Woodrow Wilson ordered troops into Mexico to capture Villa. The expedition pursued him for eleven months but was ultimately unsuccessful, due to Villa's familiarity with the terrain and also his popularity with the Mexicans.

Carranza was overthrown in 1920 and Adolfo de la Huerta's government granted Villa a pardon, on the condition that he would give up his guerilla tactics. Villa retired to a ranch in Parral, Chihuahua. He was assassinated there on June 20, 1923.

Encyclopaedia Britannica
The History Channel
Chambers Biographical Dictionary

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