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MEXICO: Pancho Villa and the US

The WAIS history learning project should include rectifying sins of omission. The Bush administration does not mention that the US once supported Saddam Hussein. Likewise Pancho Villa, as Elias Castillo points out: "Virginia Abernathy fails to note that while Pancho Villa was, in the end, considered a loose cannonball with a short fuse (all by his own doing), he obtained tremendous initial help from the U.S. government which permitted the sale of both light and heavy weapons to him from El Paso.

The U.S. government and the U.S. public, in general, supported Francisco Madero and also Villa. Madero, a Jewish-Mexican, was the intellectual leader of the Mexican Revolution which eventually overthrew the corrupt and brutal 30+ year regime of dictator Porfirio Diaz. The American public had read Barbarous Mexico and was fully on the side of the revolutionaries. Villa, with the help of U.S. and British advisors, formed the powerful 50,000-man Division del Norte that included 10,000 fully equipped cavalry soldiers, was the first to use an aircraft for observation and had 40 trains at its disposal. One of those trains was a state-of-the art rolling hospital that included 50 to 60 doctors, half of them American and British, and the rest Mexican. There were 90 nurses to take care of his wounded.

Hardly a simple "horse thief." There was more to him than Virginia obviously cares to say. Additionally, before he went on a rampage, he was a favorite of U.S. Gen. John Pershing, and there are photos of Pershing and Villa smiling as they mapped out strategy to overthrow Diaz. Those relations were so amicable, all with the blessing, of course, of the U.S. government, that at one point, the U.S. government permitted a large number of Villa's soldiers to cross into the United States, board a train, and launch, from U.S. soil, a successful attack against Diaz's troops who were expecting it from the south".

RH: The common American view of Pancho Villa is based on his later activities, including his invasion of New Mexico, because he thought the US government had double-crossed him.

Ronald Hilton - 12/10/02