“Woman of the Year” / “La Mujer del Año”

"Woman of the Year" Sra. Rosa Helia Villa de Mebius was also recently awarded the "Legion of Honor" by the President of France

“Woman of the Year” Sra. Rosa Helia Villa de Mebius was also recently awarded the “Legion of Honor” by the President of France

INTRODUCTION

Recently named Woman of the Year in San Luis Potosi, our friend Rosa Helia Villa de Mebius was recognized for her many and varied contributions  to civic life.  A member of Central Christian Church in San Luis, Rosa thanked us for attending the event in the capital city’s Teatro de la Paz where the governor presented her the award.  We’ve enjoyed the way the March 8 International Day of Women is celebrated in Mexico; this year’s commemoration of Rosa Villa will be hard to top.

Rosa’s leadership in conserving the 400 year old city’s architectural treasures led to its official status as a Zone of Monuments.  Her advocacy for women’s rights resulted in her publishing the first book written on women in the State of San Luis Potosi.  She has taught at the university level, worked as a journalist and public relations officer and as a grandchild of Pancho Villa has labored to present a more intimate, truthful portrait of the mythical figure of the Mexican Revolution.

Shortly after she received the award, Rosa welcomed us to an interview in her home to introduce her to you. She began the conversation by sharing news of progress in finding a distributor for the film based on her book, Villa: Itinerary of a Passion. After winning awards at film festivals in New York, Montreal, Honolulu and St. Tropez, she now looks forward to the film Amorous Pancho Villa ‘s premiere in the States.

Married to the San Luis architect Jorge Mebius Isbrandt, now deceased, for 39 years, Rosa is the mother of two sons.  She concludes her 2009 book The Image and the Reality of Women in San Luis Potosi  (Imagen y Presencia de la Mujer Potosina) with a vision of the expanded role of women in all areas of civic life in the future.  Her imagining of women freed to fulfill their potential as human beings ends with this tribute to Mexican mothers: “We will continue to be moved by the heroic devotion, sacrifice and love of Mexican mothers who give of themselves for their families as they always have.”

THE INTERVIEW

In your life as a public figure, what among your many contributions to civic life would you like most like to be remembered for?

The books I’ve written about the Region of San Luis Potosi.  There are fourteen books and several treat the history and culture of the State of San Luis Potosi.  One of the most important of these is The Religious Art of San Luis Potosi .

You’ve told us that your family left the Catholic Church as a result of your grandmother’s relationship with Pancho Villa.  What was that about?

When my great grandmother learned that her daughter was intent on marrying a man who was already married, it drove her crazy. “How in the world could she do this? A married man?”  Those were the questions that she couldn’t stop asking herself.  Villa, for his part, was determined to get along with his beloved Lupe’s parents and sent members of his “security

Pancho Villa with Rosa's Grandmother Lupe on the Cover of "Itinerary of a Passion"

Pancho Villa with Rosa’s Grandmother Lupe on the Cover of “Itinerary of a Passion”

guard” to try to reason with them;  the only thing they accomplished was to learn that the parents had sent Lupe to another village, Ranchos de Santiago, Chihuahua to be exact.  So the response of Villa’s men was “Well, okay, we’ll go see Lupe there.”  And Villa sent Lupe the message, “I’m coming for you soon.”  He went to the village by train, picked up Lupe there and they had two days on the train together honeymooning.

After Lupe became pregnant, the Bishop of Chihuahua blessed the couple in a ceremony on board the same train. As a result, my great grandmother Toñia refused to recognize Lupe as her daughter any more and gathered up every prayer book, rosary, religious picture and icon in the house, put them all in a pile and set it all on fire.

Now due to all the mines in Chihuahua, there were more Protestant churches than Catholic in the State, and one day Toñia was strolling in the nearby town and heard a hymn coming from a Protestant Church.  She listened and several members of the church invited her to come in off the sidewalk. Within a few months, all her remaining children had been baptized in the Methodist Church of Chihuahua.

I understand that you grew up in Durango. What brought you to San Luis Potosi? I lived in Durango as a child but was living in Mexico City when the national Health Service decided they would build a chain of new hospitals across the country.  The architect Jorge Mebius worked for a company that won the contract to build the hospital in San Luis Potosi and on the weekends for two years he would come to visit me in Mexico City. After two years of visits, he asked me to marry him and I, well I was crazy in love with him, I of course accepted.  I married him and came to live in this house.  We were married and lived here together for 39 years.

In the early 80’s the President of Mexico gifted a statue of Pancho Villa to the City of Tucson and quite a brouhaha broke out over accepting the statue and

Pancho Villa Statue in downtown Tucson

Pancho Villa Statue in downtown Tucson

then where to place it in the city. There was a lot of opposition to the City even accepting the gift.  Why should the United States honor your grandfather Pancho Villa?

Well, I really don’t know, but a year after the burial of Pancho Villa 50 U.S. citizens who had joined Villa’s air force as pilots and mechanics honored him. On the anniversary of the burial, they went up in their planes and dropped on the cemetery 10,000 Hawaian orchids.  50 men were part of this tribute!  In the town of Columbus, New Mexico, the only town in the U.S. that Villa attacked, there’s a Pancho Villa museum, the main street is named  “Francisco Villa Avenue” and the most popular restaurant is called “Pancho Villa”.  The museum invited me to participate in an event and I kept asking myself, “Why?”  Considering that Villa had come and done some real damage to the town.  And I had to be content with the thought that none of the townfolk of our day were around when it happened and those that were weren’t killed in the raid.

I had an interview on CNN in English and they asked the same thing. Why?  And I just said I still don’t know.  I don’t understand but those 50 men who knew Villa honoring him with 10,000 orchids. It’s fantastic!

We conclude this introduction to this remarkable woman with some words she wrote for her book The Image and the Reality of the Potosina Woman

“When sexism is ended, there will not be “liberated women” but free human beings.  Free to choose this or that for themselves, free to be or not to be as Shakespeare put it – and that’s the question we all always face.  Certainly there will be females who betray themselves and others but there will be more heroines.  And there will still be those who have to pay for their freedom.”

**********       ***********************     *********

Agradecemos a nuestros amigos queridos Hemer Sierra Silva y Marisela Huelga Diaz de Leon por su ayuda con la entrevista y la traducción de esta Introducción

INTRODUCCIÓN

Recientemente nombrada como: “Mujer del Año” en San Luis Potosí, nuestra amiga Rosa Helia Villa de Mebius, ha sido reconocida por sus muchas y variadas contribuciones a la vida cívica. Miembro de la Iglesia Cristiana Central “Discípulos de Cristo” de  San Luis Potosí, Rosa nos agradeció por haber asistido al evento celebrado en el Teatro de la Paz  de la capital,  en donde el Gobernador del Estado, le otorgó la Presea. Nos hemos gozado en la manera que se celebra  en México el Día Mundial de la Mujer y   la conmemoración  a Rosa Villa en este año  será algo difícil de igualar.

El liderazgo de Rosa en la conservación de los tesoros arquitectónicos de la antigua ciudad de San Luis Potosi ha logrado el reconocimiento oficial  de: “Zona de Monumentos”. Su defensa de los Derechos de la Mujer y su Advocación por el avance de la mujer en el Estado de San Luis Potosí ha resultado en la publicación del primer  libro escrito sobre la mujer en la historia del Estado. Ella ha enseñado a nivel universitario, trabajó como periodista y Directora de Relaciones Publicas en la Universidad Autonoma de San Luis Potosi; como nieta de Pancho Villa ha trabajado en presentar una más intimo y verdadera aspecto de la  mítica imagen de la Revolución Mexicana.

Un poco después de haber recibido la Presea,  Rosa nos permitió entrevistarla en su hogar, para poder presentarla ante Uds. Ella inició la conversación  compartiendo la noticia del avance en encontrar una distribuidora  para su película basada en uno de sus libros: Villa: Itinerario de una Pasión”  . Después de ganar Premios en  los Festivales Cinematograficos de Nueva York, Montreal, Honolulú y St Tropez, ella espera ahora la premier de la película  “Pancho Villa Amoroso” en Estados Unidos.

Casada con el Arquitecto Potosino, Jorge Mebius Isbrandt , ya fallecido, Rosa es madre de dos hijos. Concluyó el libro escrito en el 2009, “La Imagen y Presencia de la Mujer Potosina” con una visión de la expansión en el futuro de ellas en su rol  en todas las áreas  de la vida cívica. Se imagina la liberación del potencial de la mujer como seres humanos y  termina con un homenaje a las madres Mexicanas, “Y seguiremos viendo los sempiternos ejemplos de heroínas, entrega, devoción y amor de las madres mexicanas comprometidas con sus familias, como siempre”.

 LA ENTREVISTA

¿En su vida como personaje público y entre sus múltiples contribuciones a la vida cultural por la cual prefiere ser reconocida? 

“Los libros que escribi sobre la historia regional de San Luis Potosí.  Hay como 14 libros y varios tratan de la historia de esta región, su cultura y arte.  Uno mas importante trata sobre El Arte Religioso de San Luis Potosí.”

Nos dijo antes de que su familia había dejado la Iglesia Católica a causa de la relación de su abuela con Francisco Villa. ¿Qué pasó en la familia en esa época?

“Cuando mi bisabuela supo que su hija Lupe iba a casarse con un hombre casado se puso como loca. “¿Como  de que con un hombre casado? ¿Cómo puede suceder esto?”, fueron las preguntas que se hacía de bisabuela.  Villa, por su parte, quiso acercarse a la mamá y al papá de su querida Lupe y mandó su cuerpo de seguridad a hablar con ellos.  Aquellos se enteraron de que los papás habían mandado a Lupe a otro rancho, Los Ranchos de Santiago, Chihuahua precisamente .  Y la respuesta de los hombres de Villa fue nada más que, “Bueno, vamos por Lupe allá”.  Y Villa  mandó a Lupe el mensaje, “voy por ti”.   Él se fue  al rancho a bordo de su tren y luego subió a Lupe al mismo para pasarse dos días de “Luna de Miel” ahí.  Cuando se embarazó Lupe el Obispo de Chihuahua  bendijo el matrimonio en una ceremonia a bordo del tren.

Entonces mi bisabuela Toñia  renunció a reconocer a Lupe como su hija y recogió  todas las imágenes, cuadros, sus rosarios, los misarios y no se que mas. Se llevó todo a una pila y les prendió  fuego.

Y como en Chihuahua había mas iglesias Evangélicas que Católicas, debido a  las minas, un cierto día caminando Doña Toñia por un pueblo cercano oyó un himno y se detuvo.  La gente de la iglesia la invitó a que pasara.  En pocos meses se bautizaron todos sus hijos, en esa Iglesia Metodista de Chihuahua”.

¿Entonces por qué se desplazó usted de Durango a San Luis Potosí?

Vivi en Durango como niña pero vivía en Mexico Distrito Federal cuando el Seguro Social de México se comprometió a construir hospitales por todo el país. El Arq. Jorge Mebius trabajaba en una compañía que ganó el contrato para construir el hospital en San Luis Potosí y durante dos años los fines de semana iba hasta  Mexico a visitarme.  Después de dos años me pidió la mano y como no, acepté pues estaba yo loca de amor por él. Vine aquí para vivir en ésta casa.  Estuve  casada con él durante  39 años.

El Presidente de México en los años 80 le regaló a la ciudad de Tucson una estatua de Villa y esto desató  mucha discusión en aquel entonces sobre aceptar  y en donde colocar tal estatua.  Muchos se opusieron  a que la ciudad aceptara este donativo.  ¿Por qué los de EE UU debían  honrar a Pancho Villa?

Bueno, no sé, pero un año después del entierro de Pancho Villa lo honraron 50 ciudadanos norteamericanos que habían luchado por Villa como pilotos y mecánicos de su Fuerza Aérea.  Estos hombres subieron a sus aviones ese día de aniversario del entierro de Villa y derramaron 10 mil orquídeas Hawaianas en el camposanto en donde él está enterrado.  ¡50 hombres honrándolo!.  En Columbus, Nueva México, es la única ciudad que invadió Villa y existe el “Museo Francisco Villa”, la calle principal se  llama “Francisco Villa”, y el restaurante más importante del pueblo se llama “Pancho Villa”. El Museo me invitó para participar en un evento y yo me pregunté ¿por qué?. Tomando en cuenta de que Pancho Villa si vino y causó daños en Columbus.  Y pensé que ellos de Columbus de hoy no experimentaron ellos mismos lo que pasó y no  tuvieron muertos.

Tuve una entrevista en el CNN en inglés y me preguntaron lo mismo. ¿Por que?  Y no lo sé hasta ahora. No entiendo pero  los hombres, quienes lo conocieron en su tiempo, le regalaron 10 mil orquídeas.  ¡Fantástico!

Concluyamos con estas palabras escritas por Rosa Villa de Mebius en su libro Imagen y Presencia de la Mujer Potosina:

“Al acabar con el sexismo habrá, no mujeres liberadas, sino seres humanos libres.  Libres para optar por esto o aquello, libres para ser o no ser, lo que como bien apunto Shakespeare, es el eterno dilema. Sin duda habrá más villanas, pero veremos más heroínas.  Es el costo de la libertad.”

 

About erasingborders

The blog title harks back to an ancient Church history document, The Address to the Emperor Diognetus reporting on the lives of third century Christians in Asia Minor: “They live in their native lands but like foreigners…They take part in everything like citizens and endure everything like aliens. Every foreign country is their native land and every native land a foreign country…. They remain on earth but they are citizens of heaven.” Kate Moyer's wedding present to Doug Smith of a dancing jester figure bore the quote, “I like geography best, he said, because your mountains and rivers know the secret. Pay no attention to boundaries.” They dedicate this blog then to helping bring about the day when human beings share the resources of the planet equitably and without borders. Our geography experience features childhoods in the Midwest. Kate lived for over twenty years as an adult in the small town of Neodesha, Kansas while Doug has been an urban dweller all his adult life. She is able to readily identify most crops and keeps a close watch on her partner’s snob tendencies. The Nile Valley of Egypt, for Kate, and the Congo rainforest for Doug have left deep marks on their interior landscapes.

Posted on March 25, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Admiring the persistence you put into your blog and in depth information you present.
    It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same
    outdated rehashed information. Wonderful read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m
    adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

    • Thank you for the kind encouragment. I hope you take the time to read the earlier blogs from late 2012 and ’13 when we were learning and adapting to the cultures of Mexico. We will keep your agency bookmarked when we are ready to plan the long delayed ride above the Copper Canyon.

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