Thursday, August 7, 2014

Pancho Villa rides again!

Controversial Pancho Villa statue
A huge bronze statue of a rider and his horse in action stands peacefully in a downtown Tucson park. One would never guess the controversy that surrounded this serene scene.

The rider is Pancho Villa, a Mexican revolutionary who some have called a Robin Hood because he distributed the wealth of rich Mexicans to that country’s poor. Others have described his actions as brutal, not heroic.

The statue stands in the 20 de Agosto Park, so named in honor of Tucson’s founding on August 20, 1775. It was a gift to the people of Arizona from the president of Mexico in 1981, but the gift sparked lawsuits and controversy from the beginning. It was not dedicated until the late 1980s.

A city near Phoenix rejected it, which is how it ended up in Tucson. The then-mayor of the city refused to attend the dedication, though a thousand other people did. Protests were held for the first couple of years on the dedication date because people did not think a person who killed Americans on American soil should be honored.

Pancho Villa was the first person since the War of 1812 with Great Britain to have invaded the United States and killed its citizens. Villa and his army crossed the border in southern Arizona where they killed residents of the border towns. However, he is most reviled for killing 18 Americans in a raid in Columbus, New Mexico, in 1916.

Villa was born José Doroteo Arango Arámbula in 1878, later adopting the name Francisco “Pancho” Villa. He was a general in the Mexican Revolution.

Controversy aside, the bronze statue is nothing but magnificent. It stands 14 feet tall and weighs seven tons.

The park is located at West Broadway and West Congress streets in Tucson’s city center.



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