Citation
The conspiracy against Pancho Villa

Material Information

Title:
The conspiracy against Pancho Villa
Series Title:
This week in history
Creator:
Castro, Richard T.
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
Richard T. Castron
Publication Date:
Language:
English

Record Information

Source Institution:
Auraria Library
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
Copyright [name of copyright holder or Creator or Publisher as appropriate]. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:


Full Text
This Week In History
The Conspiracy Against Pancho Villa by
Richard Castro
On July 20, 1923, the flamboyant Mexican Revolutionary leader, Pancho Villa, and several of his body guards, were assassinated by a squad of
gunman as they were driving through the streets of Parral, Mexico. While the United States has not been linked to Villa's assassination in this instance, recent declassified F.B.I. files indicate that the U.S. may have involved
in previous attempts to "terminate with extreme prejudice," the Mexican leader. This is the term used currently by intelligence agencies (i.e. F.B.I., N.S.C., etc.) to describe political assassination.
The term is often associated with the Central Intelligence Agency.
During the 1970's the American public was treated to often fascinating
revelations of the CIA's activities in this area through the hearings of Senator Frank Church. These hearings were titled, "Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders: Interim Report of the Select Committee
to Study Governmental Operations With Respect to Intelligency Activities."
There was understandable indignation that agencies of the United States government would engage in such a morally reprehensible practice. Yet political assassination is certainly not the invention of the CIA. In fact, agencies of the United States government undertook a "termination with extreme prejudice" operation some seventy years ago; in 1916 to be precise.


2
The target was General Pancho Villa. On March 9, 1916, Villa raided the tiny New Mexico border town of Columbus, killing seventeen American soldiers and civilians. He then retreated into the vastness of the Sierra Madre in western Chihuahua. President Woodrow Wilson's response to this outrage was to. dispatch a Punative Expedition under Brigadier General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing. His mission was somewhat ambivalent. The Administration initially announced that Pershing was going into Mexico "with the sole object of capturing Villa and preventing further raids by his band. When the Army Chief of Staff asked what Pershing was supposed to do if, for instance, Villa got on a train and headed for Guatamala, the Administration rethought Pershing's assignment and then decided that his mission was to dispose Villa's irregulars. The Punative Expedition, which eventually numbered some 10,500 American troops, entered Chihuahua on March 15, 1916.
Mexican President Venustiano Carranza, a staunch nationalist, denounced the Punative Expedition as a violation of Mexican sovereignty, demanded its immediate recall, and proceeded to impede Pershing's operations whenever possible. Relations between the United States and Mexico deteriorated to the point that in June, 1916, the two nations were literally poised on the brink of war.
It was under this climate that the United States hired Japanese agents to infiltrate Villa's forces to assist in locating the illusive general and his troops. In a recent book titled, "The Border and the Revolution" by Charles Harris it is revealed that these agents were asked to terminate Villa by poisoning his food. Recent declassified F.B.I. records indicate the plot was foiled when Villa gave the poisoned food to a subordinate.


3
This lesson in history deomonstrates that the use of political assassination, violations of other nations sovereignty, covert activity are not recent phenomena _ with regard to U.S. Foreign Policy. The Iran/Contra Scandal should play a prominent role in the next presidential campaign. The dynamics of this scandal will demonstrate that agencies of the U.S. government have been operating as a "secret government" and have circumvented the U.S. Congress. We have much to learn from history. Let us not forget that events that are happening today, form the basis of history tomorrow. The use of covert activity without congressional approval makes us no better than the governments we condemn as less than democratic. The plot to kill Pancho Villa through political assassination should be viewed as equally repugnant. For once political assassination is approved by governmental unelected entities, where do we draw the line? Which political leaders should be scheduled for termination and which should be allowed to live, and what beauracrat should be given the power to make that judgment?


Full Text

PAGE 1

This Week In History The Conspiracy Against Pancho Villa by Richard Castro On July 20, 1923, the flamboyant Mexican Revolutionary leader, Pancho Villa, and several of his body guards, were assassinated by a squad of gunman as they were driving through the streets of Parra!, Mexico. While the United States has not been linked to Villa's assassination in this instance, recent declassified F.B.I. files indicate that the U.S. may have involved in previous attempts to "terminate with extreme prejudice, 11 the Mexican leader. This is the term used currently by intelligence agencies (i.e. F.B.I. , N. S.C. , etc.) to describe political assassination. The term is often associated with the Central Intelligence Agency. During the 1970's the American public was treated to often fascinating revelations of the CIA's activities in this area through the hearings of Sunator Frank Church. These hearings were titled, "Alleged Plots Involving Foreign Leaders: Interim Report of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations With Respect to Intelligency Activities. 11 There was understandable indignation that agencies of the United States government would engage in such a morally reprehensible practice. Yet political assassination is certainly not the invention of the CIA. In fact, agencies of the United States government undertook a "termination with extreme prejudice" operation some seventy years ago; in 1916 to be precise.

PAGE 2

2 The target was General Pancho Villa. On March 9, 1916, Villa raided the tiny New Mexico border town of Columbus, killing seventeen American soldiers and civilians. He then retreated into the vastness of the Sierra Madre in western Chihuahua. President Woodrow Wilson's response to this outrage was to. dispatch a Punative Expedition under Brigadier General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing. His mission was somewhat ambivalent. The Administration initially announced that Pershing was going into Mexico "with the sole object of capturing Villa and preventing further raids by his band. When the Army Chief of Staff asked what Pershing was supposed to do if, for instance, Villa got on a train and headed for Guatamala, the Administration rethought Pershing's assignment and then decided . that his mission was to dispose Villa's irregulars. The Punative Expedition, which eventually numbered some 10,500 American troops, entered Chihuahua on March 15, 1916. Mexican President Venustiano Carranza, a staunch nationalist, denounced the Punative Expedition as a violatton "of Mexican sovereignty, demanded its immediate recall, and proceeded to impede Pershing's operations whenever possible. Relations between the United States and Mexico deteriorated to the point that in June, 1916, the nations were literally poised on the brink of war. It was under this climate that the United States hired Japanese agents to infiltrate Villa's forces to assist in locating the illusive general and his troops. In a recent book titled, "The Border and the Revolution" by Charles Harris it is revealed that these agents were asked to terminate Villa by poisoning his food. Recent declassified F.B.I. records indicate the plot was foiled when Villa gave the poisoned food to a subordinate.

PAGE 3

3 This lesson in history deomonstrates that the use of political assassination, violations of other nations sovereignty, covert activity are not recent phenomena. with regard to U.S. Foreign Policy. The Iran/ Contra Scandal should play a prominent role in the next presidential campaign. The dynamics of this scandal will demonstrate that agencies of the U.S. government have been operating as a "secret government" and have circumvented the U.S. Congress. We have much to learn from history. Let us not forget that events that are happening today, form the basis of history tomorrow. The use of covert activity without congressional approval makes us no better than the governments we condemn as less than democratic. The plot to kill Pancho Villa through political assassination should be viewed as equally repugnant. For once political assassination is approved by governmental unelected entities, where do we draw the line? Which political leaders should be scheduled for termination and which should be allowed to . live, and what beauracrat should be given the power to make that judgment?