Many people do not know the true story of Francisco “Pancho” Villa. Pancho Villa was actually born Doroteo Arango Arambula on June 5, 1878 in San Juan del Rio, Mexico. Doroteo’s parents were uneducated, peasant sharecrop farmers. This fact is important because Doroteo had a high level of intelligence even though he did not have any formal education. After his father’s death, Doroteo took his father’s place as a sharecropper and helped support his mother and four sisters.
There are many versions of how Doroteo became the outlaw bandit Pancho Villa. The most widely accepted story is that Doroteo shot and or killed Augustin Negrete over the attempted rape of Doroteo’s twelve year old sister (Rosenburg 3). This event became the catalyst to Doroteo’s career as a Mexican revolutionary. The shooting is important because had this not happened, Doroteo would have continued his miniscule life as a farmer and would have not become the notorious Pancho Villa.
After shooting Negrete, Doroteo stole a horse and fled to the Sierra Mountains, instantly becoming an outlaw. While evading capture, Doroteo began using the alias Francisco “Pancho” Villa. According to Jeff Howell, there are two possibilities of why Doroteo chose this alias (6). The first possibility is that Francisco Villa was an outlaw that mentored Doroteo until Francisco was shot and killed during a cattle heist. Therefore Doroteo took his mentor’s name in an attempt to honor him. The second possibility is that Villa may have been Doroteo’s fraternal grandfather’s surname. Either way, Doroteo had now become Pancho Villa and was trying to honor someone close to him by using this name.
Pancho Villa became an expert at survival and evading capture from search parties. During his time in the mountains, Pancho also became well versed in the art of banditry. His crimes included stealing cattle, robbing shipments of money, and any other acts that involved wealthy victims (Katz 4). Pancho Villa redistributed the wealth gained from his illegal activities. He often took the money from the rich and gave it to the poor. These deeds led him to be known as a modern day Mexican Robin Hood.
In addition to giving the poor people of Mexico money, Villa reallocated land and stabilized the economy in Chihuahua, Mexico and surrounding areas. It is not clear if Pancho Villa purposely killed the landowners or if they were causalities of war. In any event, Pancho gave land to the widows and children of his fallen soldiers (Williams 12). Villa also built schools for orphans, distributed food, and improved the water supply. He continued to be favored by the citizens of Mexico as his actions were vital to the regions continued growth and betterment.
Pancho Villa greatest historical contribution was his role as a Mexican revolutionary. It is a well known fact that he was an effective leader and well skilled in the art of guerilla warfare (Rosenberg 8). At one time, Villa was a general, commanding his own military...