The revenge that unleashed the murder of Pancho Villa

The revenge that unleashed the murder of Pancho Villa

Pancho Villa is one of the characters in Mexican history that has caused the most headaches for those in power. His brave, unruly and generous personality that always characterized him was one of the main “sins” that caused his death.

Precisely, his explosive character would be the main cause of one of the least known revenges in Mexican history. It is the version that many years later would come to light thanks to Raul Herrera, author of the book Blood to the river: The ignored struggle between Maclovio Herrera and Francisco Villa (Memory Time).

The text tells the forgotten history of the Herrera family, who were apparent victims of the revolutionary hero. Raúl reveals through his text that Villa killed six members of his family, who also fought in revolutionary battles and were even part of the Northern Division, army led by Pancho.

Among the murdered members stands out Maclovio Herrara, who tried to convince Francisco to avoid the war against the Carrancistas, since his family was close to Venustiano Carranza.

After these attempts, the conversation turned into a fight and the caudillo del norte ended up threatening the whole family with death.

Later he fulfilled his promise and ended the lives of José de la Luz, Ceferino, Luis, Maclovio, Concepción and Melchor, direct relatives of the author. The bodies were hung outside a pantheon in Parral, Chihuahua; fact that would be avenged later by one of the survivors: Jesus Herrera Cano.

The resentment of the Herrera family grew more and more intensified and in 1930, Cecilia, the widow of one of those murdered, began an investigation into the disturbances that Pancho caused in various regions of the country, where made an account of the economic damages that several families had faced due to the passage of the also known Northern centaur.

It is also argued that one of the main aspects that originated this dispute was that Villa decided not to respect the Guadalupe Plan, in which it was established to overthrow the government of Victoriano Huerta by uniting all armies.

The Herreras tried to avoid this scenario at all costs because they knew that without Francisco’s help the war would continue and all the effort and money they had spent would not have been worth it. As they were a lower class family, they did not have enough financial solvency to live if this happened.

On the other hand, the writer Paco Ignacio Taibo, author of Pancho Villa, an alternative biography, narrates that Pancho’s actions were sustained by the family’s betrayal, since they were the ones who collaborated with the Americans and soon afterwards “abandoned” him for Carranza.

After Francisco Villa faced Porfirista, Carrancista and American forces, in 1920, he decided to retire and go live in the Hacienda Canutillo in his native land, Durango.

He preferred to exchange weapons in the countryside and thanks to the help of his men he managed to raise the hacienda and the surroundings of the colony. Despite the fact that at that time the country was going through a time of apparent peace, the Northern Centaur still had old enemies, among which was Alvaro Obregon.

Obregón was a Sonoran politician and military man who stood out as the main leader of the Constitutionalist Army from Venustiano Carranza, who had also fallen out with Zapata and Villa for failing to reach agreements in the Aguascalientes Convention.

On the other hand, with the death of Carranza, Pancho felt calm in Canutillo, since he had agreed with the government of Adolfo de la Huerta (who was serving as interim president due to Venustiano’s death) put his arms aside.

Finally, at the end of 1920 Álvaro was elected as official president and lands began to be distributed to peasants in different states of the country, however, rural society was still dissatisfied with the distribution of land, a fact that made Villa resurface.

Later, Huerta expressed his dissatisfaction with the appointment of Plutarco Elías Calles as a presidential candidate, this triggered the alarm in Obregón, who knew that Adolfo and Pancho could unite and “destabilize” Mexico again.

According to the aforementioned book, the advantage that Álvaro had when planning the annihilation of the revolutionary was that the survivor of the Herrera family, Jesús, went to visit him to ask him to help him do justice to his family.

After reaching several agreements, Jesus was in charge of getting everything ready for the tragic event that would be in the same city where his family was murdered..

Given these events, on July 20, 1923, General Francisco Villa was ambushed by a group of men who intercepted him in his car while he was on his way to a family party in Parral.

According to data from the Secretary of Culture, although the plan to eliminate Villa came from different politicians and the Herrera family, the assassination was organized by the deputy Jesus Salas Barraza, who received direct orders from Calles and Obregón.

Although some sources clarify that the Northern Centaur received 16 shots, others mention that they were 12 and some more than the total were 15. What is certain is that his actions against the Herreras cost him more than 10 bullets in the body.

Ben Oakley
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