Did Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata plot to invade the United States?
Both revolutionary leaders had extensive correspondence, but the key to this story is in a single letter.
Can you imagine what would have happened if Mexico's most famous dissident leaders, Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, had allied against the United States?
Although it may seem like an invented ucrony, it actually happened within the framework of the Mexican Revolution (1910-17), which last November 20 celebrated 110 years since the beginning of a conflict that intended to end the long reign of General Porfirio Diaz, supported, or so maliciously, by the United States.
This is how the revolutionary tried to make it known to Emiliano Zapata in one of the 30 letters that were exchanged during the years of the revolution:
"The common enemy for Mexico is currently the United States and the integrity and independence of our country is about to be lost if all honest Mexicans do not first unite and, with weapons in hand, prevent the sale of the Homeland.
What do you think Zapata responded?
We revealed it to him a little later...
We met in January 1916. Mexico lives the numerous human losses while the group of revolutionaries that at first fought against Diaz' control disintegrates into multiple factions.
A little more than a year before, Mexican politician, military man and businessman Vetustino Carranza had joined forces between factions for coup president Huerta to leave power, but then he began to disagree with Villa and Zapata and started an internal battle between the members of the revolution.
After having been defeated when he tried to invade Sonora from Chihuahua, Villa wrote very upset to Zapata assuring him that his defeat was due to US support and indicating that Carranza was about to sign an agreement with Mexico.
The only way to stop them and prevent Mexico from losing its sovereignty was "a joint invasion".
The letter said even more:
"(...) you must already be aware of the treaties Carranza signed with the Washington government. (...) we decided not to burn one more cartridge with the Mexicans, our brothers and sisters, and to prepare and organize ourselves properly to attack the Americans in their own burrows and let them know that Mexico is the land of the free and the tomb of thrones, crowns and traitors," wrote Pancho Villa.
Villa also added that he had divided his army into guerrillas and that in six months they should meet in the State of Chihuahua and "make the movement that will bring about the union of all Mexicans".
Appealing to the Indian blood that ran through Zapata's veins, his revolutionary compadre harangued him to defend the homeland and prevent "our land from being sold" to an enemy that "must always be fomenting hatred and provoking difficulties and quarrels among our race,
The sad ending of this story was more prosaic than Pancho Villa's words.
Zapata never received his letter and, two months after he wrote it, it was found among the clothes of one of the militiamen killed in the attack led by Villa in Columbus, New Mexico.
What do you think Emiliano Zapata would have responded to?
The story was originally collected by historian Armando Ruiz Aguilar, author of We the Ignorant Men Who Make War.