Friday, Mar. 9, 2012
On March 9, 1916, at 2:30 a.m., Mexican Revolutionary General and notorious bandit Francisco “Pancho” Villa and 500 of his horsemen attack the 13th U.S. Cavalry at Camp Furlong near Columbus, N.M. The soldiers stationed there are slow to respond, as their rifles are kept locked up in gun racks. However, they manage to fight off the “Villistas,” who as they retreat, stop by the town of Columbus, N.M., where they loot and fire at windows and houses for three hours shouting: “Viva Mexico! Muerte a los Americanos!” (death to Americans). The raid takes the lives of 14 American soldiers and 10 civilians. It comes just months after Villa’s men stop a train and murder 17 Texan engineers traveling in Mexico. However, the raid provokes President Wilson to send troops into Mexico to pursue Villa, something Villa wanted as a means to discredit the new government of his rival Venustiano Carranza. Celebrated as a national hero in Mexico, Villa is recognized for his military prowess and championing of the poor.
On Monday, Vice President Joe Biden met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, as well as the three presidential candidates contesting July’s election. At the top of the list of security concerns were cartel violence and drug smuggling along the border. Calderon’s office said the two leaders promised cooperation on a range of issues and Calderon urged Biden to do more to prevent gun trafficking across the border. Government statistics say as many as 47,000 people have been killed in the war on drug cartels since Calderon announced it in December 2006. Calderon’s term is up and he is not eligible to run again. The drug war will be a key issue for Mexican voters come July.