Monday, March 09, 2009

Pancho Villa rides again in U.S. border town

Scores of Mexican riders, some dressed as bandits and toting sabers, trotted across the U.S. border Saturday to remember a raid by Francisco "Pancho" Villa that left 18 Americans dead and this dusty U.S. frontier town a smoking ruin. The riders crossed the border in an annual commemoration of bandit-turned revolutionary Villa's bloody attack on Columbus, New Mexico, during the Mexican Revolution in March 1916. The reenactment is organized by historical enthusiasts from both sides of the border, and draws hundreds of tourists and residents who gather to watch and hold picnics. Villa raided the town in reprisal for the U.S. government's support for his rival, the nationalist government leader Venustiano Carranza. His gun-toting pistoleros crept into the streets under cover of darkness, attacked the U.S. Army garrison here killing 10 soldiers and eight civilians, and torched adobe and timber-framed homes across Columbus. Villa's raiders looted stores, stole machine guns and ammunition as well as horses and mules before running for the border and refuge in revolutionary Mexico. Sixty-seven of his men were killed out of more than 500. Outraged by the raid, the U.S. government dispatched an expeditionary force of 10,000 troops in a failed bid to capture Villa, who had dispersed his insurgents and vanished...Reuters

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