20 • MARCH 2016
BORDERLINES • MARJORIE LILLY
Remembering the Pancho Villa raid of Columbus
nother centennial commemoration of the Pancho Villa raid on Columbus won’t happen for many years, it’s safe to say. So you’d better mark your calendars for Wednesday, March 9 and Saturday, March 12. At 4:11 a.m. on March 9, 1916, Villa’s elite Dorados galloped into downtown Columbus in the dark and slaughtered 18 people – eight soldiers from Camp Furlong and 10 innocent civilians. Between 80 and 200 Mexicans were captured and killed by Americans. Six Mexicans who took part in the raid were hung at a gallows in Deming during June, next to the jail on Platinum Street. This bitter act of war has deftly been turned into a hands-acrossthe-border celebration by Columbus residents and their Mexican counterparts. For years it’s had different names, formally or informally: Fiesta de Amistad, Raid Day, Pancho Villa Day, or Camp Furlong Day. The horseback riders coming
up from Mexico have called it the Cabalgata Binacional for 17 years. “It’s a great opportunity to bond with our neighbors,” said July McClure, the PR person for the event. “It’s a peaceful reuniting of two countries.”
Memorial service planned The Columbus Historical Society always sponsors a memorial service for the American victims on the actual date of the raid, March 9. This year they’ll have more events than usual, and will stay a few days. The organizers have tried to bring all the descendants of the victims of Villa’s attack they can. Richard Dean, great-grandson of one of the Americans killed in the raid, said all visitors are welcome. There will be vendors of food and non-edible items in the Columbus plaza. A large crowd is expected to come. McClure remembers the 75th anniversary celebration, when “a couple thousand people” came.
Corner Florida & Columbus Hwy. PO Box 191, Deming NM 88031 (575) 546-3922
The Cabalgata Binacional arrives in Columbus during a previous Pancho Villa raid commemoration. (Photo by Marjorie Lilly)
All-volunteer entertainment for Saturday With amazing magnanimity, all of the re-enactors, singers, and dancers on March 12 will be performing on a volunteer basis. “It’s a godsend. We’ve been blessed,” said Norma Gomez, the main organizer. “We’re operating on a shoestring budget.” “People are really excited to participate in the 100th anniversary,” McClure said. One group of 20 re-enactors is coming from the capital of Durango, Mexico, almost 500 miles south of Columbus. They’re a sophisticated troupe called Grupo Mezcal, and they act, sing, and stomp out revolutionary dances in period clothes. They’ve performed at the commemoration before and are coming because of their love of the event. A group of retired men in the U.S. are going to be re-enacting a Camp Furlong campground in the morning at Pancho Villa State Park. “They’re coming from places like Lubbock, Texas, Riverside,
California, Michigan and South Carolina,” Gomez said. “They always watched from the sidelines before. Now they’re contributing.” A major ballet folklorico group called Grupo Fuego is coming from the Phoenix area. A lot of local musical groups will also appear. There’s such a crowd of performance groups lining up to play in the Columbus plaza that the organizers have decided to give each group only 15 minutes to do their act, except for the most important ones, who will get 30 to 45 minutes. For kids (yay!), there will be pony rides and a petting zoo.
Cabalgata riders ride up from Mexico The Cosses are ranchers in the ejido of Seis de Enero, half an hour south of Columbus. Their kitchen is uncomfortably hot from the woodstove. Elias and a few others sitting around the table have ridden horseback several times to the Columbus celebration from the town of Guerrero. The town is 200 miles south of the border – halfway
through the state of Chihuahua. It takes two weeks to ride up. “For seven years I’ve gone on the cabalgata,” Elias said. About 30 of the riders among hundreds in the entire cabalgata begin in Guerrero. They believe this is the longest stretch of road that anybody rides during the event. This year’s ride will be the 17th year in a row that Mexican riders have officially gone on the Cabalgata Binacional. Elias will be riding with a daughter, a son, and his friend. Coss’ wife Lety has been making a traditional asado of pork with chile sauce for her children and their spouses or beaus. She offers some to me and Miguel Marquez, who brought me there. Marquez, who is part Warm Springs Apache, has ridden from Guerrero for three years. Several other years he rode from Zaragoza, where he has a brother-in-law, and from Madera. He has lived and worked for years as an electrical
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Pancho Villa Raid Film festival offers $500 awards for Pancho Villa-related productions
he Rotary Club of Silver City, in conjunction with Western New Mexico University and Silver Screen Society, have launched a film competition for the documentation of the invasion of Columbus by Pancho Villa. The film documentation will take place March 9 and 12 during centennial events in Columbus. A unique feature of the competition is the opportunity to create a film remotely without visiting the village of Columbus at all. A video “pool” will be created from the centennial events and other field documentation. The “pool” will be accessible via the Internet, al-
lowing filmmakers far and wide to produce a submission. The final editing can be finished the following weekend at WNMU (optional). There are three filmmaker entry categories: High school students, university students and Independents. Prizes of $500 for each category will be awarded. Scholarships at WNMU will also be awarded. Maximum film length 15 minutes. Film submission deadline is April 15. For more information contact assistant professor Peter Bill at pbill23@gmail. com, or visit the website www.peterbill.us/invasion.html.