On Friday, January 21, 2022, volunteer planning representatives from New Mexico attended a multi-municipality meeting in San Buenaventura, Chihuahua, Mexico to discuss the details of the 23rd Cabalgata Binacional. Norma Gomez was there on behalf of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, as well as Rafael Camarillo and Ignacio Montoya as part of the Columbus event planning team.
9 municipalities were represented at the meeting of 35 officials coordinating the necessary provisions and arrangements along the 18-day route. Municipalities agreed to fund event necessities for the portion of the journey that takes place in their region. Municipalities each provide Port-a-Potties, food and gas for human support and feed and veterinary services for the horses.
“It’s a huge effort on the Mexican side,” said Norma Gomez, Executive Director of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. “The village and county of Ascenion coordinates with all of the other participating municipalities in Mexico, plus us on the US side, to put on the entire event. We also coordinate the last section and celebration in Palomas with them. There is a huge team of people behind putting this together for the 18 days before they arrive in Columbus.”
The Cabalgata is a unique, binational event that involves cooperation from many different national, state, and local governments and agencies throughout both the United States and Mexico.
Founded in 1999 to commemorate the historical significance of Pancho Villa’s raid on the border town of Columbus, the riders follow the route of the Villistas through Mexico, arriving on the 2nd Saturday in March. All participants agree that, “the Villista Cabalgata Binacional has a cultural and historical meaning attached to the events of the attack on Columbus, New Mexico,” according to the agenda from that Friday’s meeting.
“Everyone takes this seriously. We are honoring an important historical event. A lot of people died that day. So this is a commemoration of what happened, not a celebration of what happened,” said Gomez.
Because only riders with US Citizenship or the necessary visas can cross over for the US parade and ceremonies, celebrations are held in Palomas, Mexico the night before. The following morning, riders with paperwork and horses with the required permits are allowed to cross over and begin the 3 mile march to town from the border. A slow procession reaches the center of Columbus at approximately 11am and marks the beginning of a daylong fiesta.
This year’s Cabalgata Binacional ceremonies take place the evening of March 11 in Palomas, Mexico and the morning of March 12 in Columbus New Mexico.