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La tumba abandonada

19 September 2009


Villa’s life is largely a mystery and so is his death. He had made
his hacienda a model farm along the lines of Madero’s visions. It
had the schools, clinics, decent housing, its own electrical plant
and telegraph office. Like the old haciendas, it had a company store, but with a twist. The hacienda was too far from Hidalgo del Parral for the workers to go shopping, so the hacienda bought wholesale and sold items below retail to workers and neighboring villages—a sort of revolutionary “Sam’s Club”.

Obregón’s last surviving important rival was regularly featured
in the press and was hardly forgotten. When the government,
hoping to revive the economy, offered to lease some old haciendas to American companies, Villa’s loud and public objections to the anti-revolutionary idea forced the government to change its mind. When Obregón’s government hoped to re-establish diplomatic relations with the United States there was one minor issue with the United States: the lingering resentment of Pancho Villa. His attack on New Mexico and a few raids into Texas could not be forgiven. After all, he had successfully attacked the gringos and might still cause problems.

So, what happened in Hidalgo del Parral on 20 July 1923 isn’t a
complete mystery. Villa was driving home from a christening when an unknown group of men—in a house rented the day before, then barricaded—opened fire on the car, killing all eight occupants. The men rode out of town on horseback and were never seen again. A state legislator later claimed to have masterminded the assassination, but there are too many questions about his claim to accept the story. At any rate, it doesn’t explain the real mystery of Pancho Villa’s death.

Three years after Villa was buried, someone dug up the corpse
and stole the head. Who, or why? Woodrow Wilson can be eliminated as a suspect—he died in 1924. General Pershing wasn’t known to hold grudges. Obregón’s amputated arm (like Santa Ana’s leg) had been saved and made the center of a memorial, but there is no evidence he went about collecting other people’s body parts. Theories range from probable (old enemies still out for revenge—with their own ideas about justice—or ghoulish souvenir hunters), to implausible—a favorite with American newspapers of the time had Villa’s head stolen by California gangsters in the pay of an Oklahoma spinster with an unrequited love for the ex “movie star”. There is another popular gringo suspect: George W. Bush’s grandfather.

A story that has taken on popularity since the 1990s is that the
head was taken by members of Yale’s ultra-secret Skull and Bones society, which uses a human skull in its rituals. The society is connected with the York Rite Masons (Poinsett’s “Yorkistas”) and both George Bushes are members of the organization. Prescott Bush, father of the first George Bush, also a member, was inducted a few weeks after the head disappeared, and, it is said, was in México at the time126 Villa’s head disappeared. How anyone would have known that the student joining the organization in 1926 would have a son who ran the CIA and later would be president of the United States and a grandson who would also be president, is never quite explained. Or why they wanted the head. Villa’s headless body was cremated and interred in the Monumento de la Revolución in Mexico City in 1972.

(Gods, Gachupines and Gringos, ©2008 Richard Grabman)

La Tumba abandonada was composed by Pepe Albarrán, and is performed by Los tremendos Gavalanes

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 7 March 2010 11:27 am

    This is the main reason I love Unbelievable posts.

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