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Pascual Orozco

Pascual Orozco

(1882 – 1915)

Pascual Orozco, whose path crossed that of Villa again and again, was born in Guerrero, Chihuahua in 1882. Like most other revolutionaries from the north, Orozco had a profound dislike for President Porfirio Díaz, and believed that the dictator had run the country long enough. Orozco became an arms smuggler, going back and forth across the border between the U.S. and Mexico to bring U.S. weapons into Mexico to fight Díaz.

When Francisco Madero rose up against Diaz, Orozco signed on to Madero’s army. He rose through the ranks of the Maderistas quickly – in some ways paralleling Villa’s rise. In fact, Villa and Orozco joined forces when, at the battle of Juárez, they ignored Madero’s orders not to attack.

Orozco and Villa successfully took Ciudad Juárez, and thus became the first true heroes of the Maderista revolution. It was this battle that directly resulted in the removal of Porfirio Díaz, and the eventual presidency of Francisco Madero.

Orozco expected to be recognized in some way by Madero. But Madero was annoyed with Orozco for disobeying his orders in Juárez (despite the successful outcome), and refused to promote him or acknowledge his contribution. Instead, Madero named Orozco’s competitor, Venustiano Carranza, to a cabinet post. Carranza had also fought in the Maderista war and was at Madero’s side after the Juárez battle, but he had come to the revolution later, and, initially, more reluctantly. Carranza would eventually become President of Mexico.

Like Emiliano Zapata in the South, Orozco declared Madero an enemy, and in 1912, he formed an insurgent army, los colorados, to fight against Madero. The so-called Orozquista revolt threatened to destroy Madero’s presidency less than a year after it had begun. In response, Madero sent another of his generals, Victoriano Huerta, to fight Orozco and the colorados. Huerta, who had also fought against the Zapatistas, was ruthless in his attacks – not so much because of a hatred of Orozco, and certainly not out of admiration for Madero, but in order to put himself in a potentially powerful political position.

Huerta eventually drove Orozco into exile in the U.S., but then, in February 1913, initiated a coup against President Madero, his former boss. When Huerta became president, Orozco returned to Mexico and served as one of his generals. A year later, Huerta himself was driven into exile by the armies of Carranza, Obregón, and Villa — and Orozco was once again forced to flee to the U.S.

Although Huerta was exiled to Europe, he and Orozco met in the U.S. in 1915. Together, they planned to take Mexico back from Carranza and Obregón, who were now in power in Mexico City. But before they could act, Huerta and Orozco were arrested together in New Mexico. Although Orozco managed to escape from prison, he would never make it back to his own country. On August 30, 1915, while trying to cross the border, Orozco and his men were killed by a posse hired by a Texas rancher, who claimed he had been robbed by horse thieves. Although the incident was investigated, it was never determined whether in fact Orozco and his men had stolen any horses.

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