Friday, January 18, 2008
Zacatecas and Mexico's Robin Hood
The city of Zacatecas without a doubt is one of the most beautiful places in all of Mexico and one no La Carrera participant will ever forget. Since I am making plans to take my wife to Zacatecas sometime in July I have been doing some research about it. All La Carrera participants are bigger than life characters and it seems many such characters have been involved in Zacatecas history over the years.
One of them was none other than Pancho Villa himself. Primarily remembered as a bandit today, he was in fact a populist revolutionary fighting for the people of Mexico. It's interesting to note, he was the only military leader to invade the mainland of the United States in the 1900's. In 1916 he crossed the border and attacked Columbus, New Mexico. In response, the United States sent General John Pershing into Mexico to track him down. After two years, he gave up, unable to find the noted revolutionary.
In colonial days, Zacatecas was the largest silver producing city in the world and the source of much of Mexico's wealth thus a supply of funds for whomever held it. One of the single bloodiest battles of the Revolution was on the hilltop overlooking Zacatecas which is the same hill we raced up called La Buffa. To this day there are monuments on the hill commemorating this event as well as a beautiful church overlooking the summit.
Zacatecas was heavily defended by Federal troops trying to take the wealth is silver which would help rule Mexico but Pancho Villa had different thoughts. Attacking up steep slopes, Villa's men won the bloody victory, with combined casualties numbering over 7,000 dead and 5,000 wounded and unknown numbers of civilian casualties. Thanks to Pancho Villa the loss of Zacatecas in June 1914 broke the back of the Huerta regime, and Huerta left for exile.
In retrospect it's simply amazing to realize we raced Lucky's horses up the very same hill that Pancho Villa raced his horse up which sits over looking the city of Zacatecas a city I day dream of often.
Trivia; The Mexican reales were the original dollar and where the first to be called "pieces of eight." It is also why the Mexican Peso and the Dollar both use $ signs and why a quarter is “two bits” (two-eights of a piece of eight = 2/8 = 1/4 = one quarter).