Pancho villa horseback

Pancho Villa on a horse

Francisco "Pancho" Villa (born José Doroteo Arango Arámbula; June 5, 1878 – July 20, 1923) was a Mexican bandit and revolutionary. He fought for Francisco Madero against Porfirio Díaz, then for Venustiano Carranza against Victoriano Huerta after Huerta overthrew Madero, and finally for Emiliano Zapata against Carranza after falling out with Carranza.

In 1915, Carranza and his general Álvaro Obregón decisively defeated Villa several times. With his army decimated, Villa turned to guerrilla warfare.

The United States government under Woodrow Wilson recognized the Carranza as the legitimate President of Mexico and supported Carranza's army. In 1916, Villa led a raid on Columbus, New Mexico, killing eighteen Americans. The U.S. responded by organizing an expedition into Mexico under General John Pershing in order to capture Villa. The expedition proved to be unpopular among the Mexican populace and Carranza's government pressured the U.S. into withdrawing, forcing the expedition to end inconclusively and allowing Villa to continue his banditry and guerrilla war against Carranza.

Meanwhile, Carranza and Obregón fell out with each other. In 1920, Obregón and Adolfo de la Huerta rebelled against and overthrew Carranza, and de la Huerta was made provisional president. Carranza was later killed.

With Carranza dead, Villa negotiated the end of hostilities with the Mexican government under de la Huerta. Villa was given amnesty and 25,000 acre in exchange for recognizing the new government and ending hostilities.

In 1923, Villa was assassinated by a group of armed men. Jesús Salas Barraza claimed credit for the assassination with a dispute over a woman and an alteration with Villa being the alleged motivation. However, a group of letters claims that Barraza was merely the fall guy for a larger conspiracy.


As with many outlaws and revolutionaries, Pancho Villa's portrayal in the media is often Romanticized. Villa has been compared to Robin Hood both during his time and today.

Nevertheless, Villa remains a controversy figure. In the United States, Villa is best remembered for the raid that led to the death of eighteen Americans and the expedition that followed.

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