Sins of Omission

Pancho Villa

There are hundreds of Mexican restaurants in the United States named for the revolutionary Pancho Villa.  Photos of the Durango native line the walls, and his raid on the small American hamlet of Columbus, New Mexico, is celebrated.  Nowhere is mentioned the many atrocities Villa and his forces regularly committed.  Torture, rape, and murder were not uncommon.  Yet, in today’s educational climate it is doubtful that more than a handful of professors describe him or his raid in anything but p.c. terms.  As with his true name, Doroteo Arango, his true history will continue to be obscured.

Many theories have been proffered to explain Villa’s motivation for attacking Columbus: President Wilson announced U.S. support for the Carranza government; the United States allowed Mexican troops railroad passage from El Paso to Douglas, Arizona, where they recrossed the border and defeated Villa in the battle of Agua Prieta; a Columbus merchant cheated Villa on an arms deal.  There may be some truth in each of these theories, but a far more likely explanation is something we know for certain.  Having endured a rugged winter after being badly defeated at Agua Prieta in November 1915, Villa found his arms, ammunition, horses, mules, and supplies nearly exhausted.  His scouts told him that Columbus, only three miles above the border, and the adjacent U.S. Army post, Camp Furlong—not much more than a few buildings,...

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