March 10, 2008, - 6:31 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
One question arises from this story:
Why did they wait so long to ask for the moolah?
Oh, and one other thing. Here’s an obvious tip: Any time someone asks for money and says it’s about “honor, not about money,” guess what? It’s about the money.
Nearly 85 years after he was killed in an ambush, Francisco “Pancho” Villa is remembered in this border town as both a revolutionary hero and the man who invaded the United States on a March morning 92 years ago today.
A statue of him riding his horse – gun drawn, hat pulled back ‚Äì romanticizes his exploits.
But for the family of Jose Saenz Pardo, one of Villa’s assassins, the statue is a reminder of a $50,000 reward he never received, a bounty reportedly offered by Uncle Sam for Villa’s capture or death.
“At this stage, it’s a question of honor, not about money,” said Maria Fernanda Carrillo Saenz Pardo, 28, Mr. Saenz Pardo’s granddaughter, who lives in Ciudad Juarez and works in El Paso. “We want the United States to make good on its word. They wanted Villa, dead or alive. We fulfilled our end of the bargain.”
Although historians have noted the reward in accounts of the time, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City said the U.S. government offered no reward. She said a resolution authorizing a $50,000 bounty was introduced in Congress but apparently never passed.
In 1916, no one was more hunted than Villa.
On March 9 of that year, he and 500 of his men crossed from Palomas and launched an early-morning raid on Columbus, N.M.
They killed 18 Americans, including eight soldiers. Outraged, President Woodrow Wilson sent Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing to hunt down Villa.
Villa’s motives for the invasion remain a topic of debate, although one theme remains constant: Villa felt betrayed by the Americans, who had once befriended him. Two years before, Gen. Pershing had posed for a photo with Villa at Fort Bliss, outside El Paso.
But the Americans later aligned themselves with Villa’s hated foe and political rival, Venustiano Carranza, who became president. The Columbus raid was Villa’s revenge, according to historian Friedrich Katz, author of The Life and Times of Pancho Villa.
Even today, zeroing in on Villa’s legacy is no easy task. He is both revered as a hero of the revolution launched in 1910 and remembered as a notorious border bandit and killer. He was a leader in toppling Mexico’s dictator, Porfirio D??az, and was later named provisional governor of the northern state of Chihuahua. Many still view him as a defender of the people.
The Saenz Pardo family is among those who see Villa as a hardened criminal who made enemies throughout Mexico. This is particularly true in Chihuahua, they say, where he seized some of the most prized haciendas from wealthy families for his personal use.
He and his gunmen also angered many by killing their loved ones, including several family members of Mr. Saenz Pardo. That bad blood, not a reward, is the reason Jose Saenz Pardo helped kill Villa, they say.
Yeah, but, um, now, they want money.
Years later, Mr. Saenz Pardo did find Villa. Said to be motivated by the deaths of his two brothers-in-law, an uncle and two cousins, he joined his cousin Militon Lozoya and five other men and planned Villa’s assassination. . . .
The gunmen rode into the desert and hid out. Two of them later served months in jail. Others, including Mr. Saenz Pardo, were commissioned into the military. He later received a military pension, underscoring suspicion by historians that the men had a deal with President ?Ålvaro Obreg??n that they wouldn’t be punished for assassinating Villa.
“My father-in-law made it clear that President Obregon knew about their plan and supported them,” said Jose Carrillo, Mar??a Fernanda Carrillo’s father. “That’s why he had military status and military escort for many years.”
Then git yer money from Mexico. We’re only supporting their whole economy with our jobs and welfare benefits going to that country’s people. Time for Mexico to contribute something. Here’s a great opportunity.
Sadly, Villa is remembered as a hero, not just as an anti-American terrorist.
Today, Columbus will observe the 92nd anniversary of Villa’s raid, still a source of local debate. For example, a decision by the state of New Mexico to name a local park Pancho Villa State Park is something that many locals, including historian and archivist Richard Dean, want reversed.
“There’s an awful lot of people who want to change that, given that he was a terrorist,” said Mr. Dean, 75, whose great-grandfather James Dean died in the raid. “That group came in and killed my grandfather. The name has to change.”
The man who assassinated Villa, whose descendant is now demanding money, clearly did so out of a vendetta motivation and a deal with the Mexican government. This is not our responsibility. The interest on this money would be enormous. But we are already paying billions more than that to Mexico’s citizens in the form of jobs, benefits, and other things they steal from America by virtue of being here illegally.
That’s enough. Let Mexico pay this woman.
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