Pancho Villa and the Ides of March
March 15, 2010

Doroteo Arango Said, "Et tu, Uncle Sam" On the Ides of March

Caesar's Last Moments with Marlon Brando Looking on March 15, 44 BC

On This Date in History:   It’s March 15.  If it weren’t for William Shakespeare, most people would probably have never heard of the Ides of March.  Of course, the Ides of March is when Julius Caesar was stabbed to death my several members of the Roman Senate.  Even now, most people probably don’t even know that there are ides of other months.  Believe it or not, there have been other significant events of the day.

Doroteo Arango

In 1878, Doroteo Arango was born in Mexico.  Through his early years, he witnessed the ascent of the wealthy in Mexico and the difficulties of the poor.  Conditions have improved since Arango’s early days but, even today, the Mexico class structure is one in which nearly 25% of the population is in poverty with a 2008 per capita income of less than $10,000. (World Bank Data)  However, the unemployment rate in 2008 was just 3 percent.  To make things worse for the Arangos,   the patriarch of the family died when Doroteo was 15 and he became a sharecropper to support his mother and siblings.   In 1894, the 16-year-old Doroteo returned from a day in the fields to find the owner of the hacienda attempting to sexually assault his 12-year-old sister.  So, the teenager grabbed a pistol and shot the wealthy owner.  That sent the teenager on a life of eluding the law.

Villa Spent Much of His Life on A Horse On the Run

He went to the mountains and after a couple of years of difficult survival, he joined up with a group of bandits and he quickly became thier leader.  They stole cattle, robbed various forms of transit carrying money and generally committed crimes against the wealthy.   By giving some of the spoils of their trade to the poor, Arango and his compadres saw themselves as modern day Robin Hoods as did many in the general population.  Authorities, however, viewed them as nothing but hoods and stepped up the attempts to apprehend Arango and the banditos. 

Heroic Image of Pancho Villa

As his imfamy rose, it seemed like a good time to create an alias.  Now, some say that Arango took the name of a fellow bandit he had met along his journey.  Others say that the name Francisco Villa was a derivative of his grandfather’s last name.  But, either way, Doroteo Arango became Francisco Villa.  Since, “Pancho” is a popular nickname for “Francisco,” Franciso Villa quickly became Pancho Villa.  Now, while the authorities were not too enthused at Villa’s propensity for avoiding capture and escaping seemingly impossible odds, one group took an interest.  That would be a political group of revolutionaries who thought that Villa had the skill set to lead guerilla operations.  Porfirio Diaz was the President of Mexico and many of the poor blamed their plight on him.  His political opponent, Francisco Madero, came to the forefront on a promise of change.  He called for big changes to help the poor and, presumably, adversely affect the rich.  That seemed like a good idea to Villa so he agreed to be a leader of Madero’s revolutionary army.

End For Villa Not Pretty or Heroic

He did pretty well for a couple of years but abrutly resigned his position in 1911 following a dispute with another revolutionary commander, Pascual Orozco, Jr.  Madero became Mexican president and, not long after he resigned his position, Villa got married and tried  to settle down to a life of normalcy.  But, that was not to be.  Seems that Orozco was not included in the new president’s governmental plans so, he started his own revolution in 1912.  Villa agreed to join forces with a general in support of Madero but the general accused Villa of stealing his horse and ordered him executed.  While, Villa escaped the gallows with a reprieve, he was left in prison for 6 months until at the end of 1912 when he did what he was good at doing: he escaped.

Villa and Pershing in 1914...Before They Became Enemies

Now, this general, General Victoriano Huerta, switched allegiances and turned against Madero.  On George Washington’s birthday in 1913, Huerta killed Madero and named himself as president.  As part of the pattern, Villa joined up with another person opposed with the president.  This time it was Venustiano Carranza and Villa had a string of victories across much of North Mexico where he redistributed land and tried to stablize the economy.  I dunno…maybe Carranza got jealous or maybe he was afraid of the power his partner was gaining…but for some reason, Villa and Carranza went from friends to enemies and a Civil War between the two factions continued for a couple of years.  Enter Uncle Sam, who decided it was time to support Carranza after initially backing Villa.  Villa responded on March 9, 1916 by crossing the border and attacking Columbus, New Mexico.  Now, that old arbitor of peace and law, President Woodrow Wilson, was not about to let the first attack on American soil since the War of 1812 go unanswered on his watch.  So, on this date in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered the invasion of Mexico by 12,000 US troops led by General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing in an attempt to kill or capture Villa.

Recruiting Poster to Join US Army to Capture Villa

   As part of the American Expedition was a young George S. Patton, Jr.  After a year, the United States Army failed to capture Villa and Carranza was assassinated.  Interim Mexican President Adolfo de la Huerta negotiated a peace that involved Villa retiring to a nice hacienda in Chihuahua.  Villa enjoyed himself until in 1923, he was gunned down while sitting in his car.  They made a movie about the Death of Pancho Villa in 1974

So, you see, in the early 20th century, the United States invaded a sovereign nation to kill or apprehend an individual who had orchestrated and participated in an attack on US soil.  While history really doesn’t repeat itself, the early 20th century and the early 21st century do have some interesting parallels.

NAM calls for clearing at 700 mb by 2pm Monday

Weather Bottom Line:  Everything is pretty much running down the line.  The weekend was as gloomy as I said it was and the temperatures in the 40’s felt a little chillier now than it would have a couple of weeks ago because last week we had highs in the low 70’s.  Now, the low behaved as expected and therefore there is no reason to think that it won’t move off to the northeast with clouds over our area on Monday before things improve.  In general, we should begin to warm up slowly as the week progresses but, there is one fly in the ointment.  Midweek, both the GFS and NAM call for an upper low to drop down, cut off from the main flow, over the Ohio Valley.  Its my guess that we may be a little cooler on St. Patrick’s Day than some forecasts suggest.  Otherwise, we move toward the 60 degree mark by the end of the week.  There is some indication of a trof late next weekend that may keep us in the 30’s on Sunday and some models are trying to throw out snow…though at this point, ground temperatures won’t support much accumulation and I’m not so sure we will get cold enough for it anyway.  But, it’s something to file away.