Say one thing for Mexican warlord Pancho Villa, he had guts. Throughout the interminable Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), the various factions had fought it out with massacres, ambushes, assassinations, bombings and torture, but there was one line they never crossed: they did not antagonize the USA, the mighty neighbor to the north who was watching nervously at the carnage taking place in Mexico. On March 9, 1916, Villa launched an attack on Columbus, New Mexico, hoping to gain arms, munitions and cash. The attack failed and the US launched a punitive raid into Mexico to hunt down Villa and bring him to justice. They never found him, and the brazen attack - and the failure of the Americans to capture the wily old bandit - gave Villa a desperately needed boost more effective than the weapons would have been.
It was one year ago today that Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's controversial president, died of cancer. His successor, Nicolas Maduro, is facing a growing crisis of the sort that Chavez always seemed to be able to avoid.
On March 2, 1836, Texas officially declared its independence from Mexico, escalating the war that had already begun between Mexico and the rebellious Texans (the legendary Alamo would fall only a few days later). Tensions had been high for years between the settlers in Texas and the Mexican government. Why was the split inevitable?
On February 23, 1965, Israeli agents lured 64 year old Herbert Cukurs to an abandoned house in Montevideo, Uruguay. There, he was attacked, murdered and stuffed into a trunk for several days until his body was found. Why did the Israelis murder Cukurs, once a great aviation pioneer?
Some historical figures are more interesting than others. At the top of the heap, you have Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. President of Mexico eleven times in twenty-two years. Lost his leg in battle and had it buried with full military honors. Lost half of Mexico, including Texas, to the United States. A crooked and dirty politician who made people refer to him as "his most serene highness." If Santa Anna were a fictional character in a novel, no one would believe it!
General Victoriano Huerta was a hard-drinking, hard fighting Mexican General who served with distinction under dictator Porfirio Diaz. When Diaz was overthrown in 1911, Huerta stayed on as a General, serving under new President Francisco Madero, but by 1913 he had seen enough. On February 18, 1913, Madero was arrested on Huerta's orders and Mexico had a new president as the Mexican Revolution once more got bloody. How long would Huerta last?
Panfilo de Narvaez (1470-1528) couldn't catch a break. While other Spanish conquistadors were bringing home gold and silver, he had a run of extreme bad luck. When Hernan Cortes landed in Mexico, governor of Cuba Diego Velázquez sent Narvaez to rein him in. Cortes met Narvaez in battle, won, added all of Narvaez' men to his own and locked up Narvaez fpr the duration of the venture, which ended in vast loot for Cortes (and all of his men, including everyone but Narvaez). Narvaez was authorized to explore Florida for loot and set sail in 1527 with 600 men. His experience in Florida must have made him miss Cortes' prison. What happened to the Narvaez expedition?
On February 12, 1817, the mighty Army of the Andes, led by Jose de San Martin and Bernardo O'Higgins, was quickly approaching Santiago. The Spanish quickly sent an army to meet them at the Battle of Chacabuco. Would the Spanish army be enough to keep the patriots out of Santiago?
"Black Bart" Roberts enjoyed a more lengthy pirate career than most. For three years, Roberts was the scourge of Atlantic shipping, the most feared pirate of his day. Even his career had to end, however, and on February 10, 1722, Roberts' luck ran out. What happened to the most successful pirate of his generation?
On February 7, 1979, infamous ex-Nazi and Auschwitz "Angel of Death" Josef Mengele suffered a stroke while swimming in Brazil and died. Her lived his life in such secrecy that it wasn't until 1985 that the world found out that the most-wanted war criminal had died years before.