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Video:Profile of Pancho Villa

with Ben Arrona

Pancho Villa was an extremely popular, divisive figure in his time. This history video from About.com will offer an overview of the life and exploits of Pancho Villa.See Transcript

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Transcript:Profile of Pancho Villa

Hi, I'm Ben Arrona, here for About.com. I'm a historian with a Master's degree in American History, here to talk about the life of Pancho Villa.

Origin of Pancho Villa

Few names recall the lore of the Wild West like Pancho Villa. Villa was a guerilla fighter and a Mexican revolutionary leader, whose exploits became the thing of legend. Born on June 5, 1878 as Jose Doroteo Arango Arambula, Villa was the son of a field worker.

When he was 15 his father passed away, and a year later he would be a fugitive from justice after killing the owner of an estate on which he worked, protecting his younger sister. Over the next 16 years he would adopt the moniker, Francisco Villa, going by the nickname, Pancho Villa.

Pancho Villa Becomes a Revolutionary

In 1910, Villa was convinced to join with Francisco Madero's revolutionary uprising against Mexican dictator, Porfirio Diaz. His knowledge of the land and the people of Northern Mexico proved very valuable to Madero's cause. Villa put together and commanded a division of soldiers and contributed to the eventual success of the revolution. In May of 1911, Villa married and retired from the army.

This retirement, however, would be short-lived. Just a year later, during the rebellion of Pascual Orozco, Villa gathered troops to defend new president, Madero. During this period, Villa had a falling out with General Victoriano Huerta. Villa was sentenced to death and sent to prison. While he was eventually granted a stay of execution, he was not released from prison. Taking matters into his own hands, Villa escaped from prison and fled to the United States.

Villa Becomes Governor of Chihuahua

A year later, in 1913, when President Madero was assassinated by General Huerta, Villa once again put together an army of several thousand men and was part of a rebellion against the new president. His victories on the field were such that he became the governor of the new state of Chihuahua, and the uprising as a whole succeeded in removing Huerta from power.

All would not stay well, however, as in 1914 Villa had a falling out with Venustiano Carranza, his former ally and leader of this latest uprising. Villa now had to flee Mexico. Unfortunately for him, the United States was supporting Carranza's government at the time.

Villa Becomes Wanted by the U.S.

This led Villa to demonstrate that he was a force to be reckoned with in the North. In January of 1916, he and his band killed 17 U.S. citizens at Santa Isabel. Two short months later, they killed another 17 in Columbus, New Mexico. Although President Wilson sent a party to bring him to justice, Villa was never caught.

In 1920, with the fall of Carranza's regime, Villa was granted a pardon, contingent on the secession of his revolutionary activity. Part of the agreement was that he would be given a ranch in Chihuahua. Three years after his retirement, Pancho Villa was assassinated.

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