I AM-Emiliano Zapata
Emiliano Zapata, An uncompromising revolutionary who fought for the poor, a general, capable of conquering Mexico City, and a tragic folk hero, who died for his people.
This is the story of Mexico’s greatest revolutionary.
General Emiliano Zapata is one of the most important figures of the Mexican Revolution; and continues to be one of the most inspirational figures of many social justice movements, especially in Latin America.
A single man who started with nothing and wound up reshaping the entire country of Mexico.
Born August 8, 1879 in Morelos, Mexico. A poor town under the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz.
The town consisted of extremely poor peasants, farming and extremely poor land.
Most villagers often relied on farming for survival, which soon became a problem.
The dictatorship did not care about communal land rights and wealthy landowners known as hacendados started taking up the peasants land.
At first, the villagers tried to fight back.
They petitioned officials, staged protests and even tried to hire lawyers, but the dictator would not do anything to the hacendados, because they were helping to keep him in power.
For Zapata, hacendados could not just steal land without consequences, but they could kill anyone in their way.
There was a clear split between the rich and poor.
This is how it was before the Mexican Revolution broke out.
At age 17 both his parents died
1897, the following year he attended a protest for lands rights and was arrested and drafted into the army
Growing up Zapata witnessed all the injustice which inspired him to try to bring change to his town.
He tried to run for office but the dictator made sure to rig the election.
This infuriated Zapata.
He began to feel if the dictatorship would not change civilly, then it was time to force them to change.
In 1910, Zapata made his first stand armed with 80 men.
They tore down fences where a local hacendado fenced off a communal hillside
Later that year, on November 20, 1910 the Mexican Revolution started from the frustration people had for the dictatorship.
So, Zapata jumped at the opportunity to participate in the revolution.
Faced with multiple revolutionary armies, the dictator; Diaz resigned and escaped to Europe where he died 4 years later.
When the soon to be president, Monderno asked for the new revolutionary armies to finally stand down.
Zapata issued THE PLAN OF AYALA
This was a radical agrarian manifesto that would go on to influence nearly every Latin-american revolutionary.
It was a vision of a fairer world based on land redistribution.
It was the first document of its kind in Mexican History.
Unfortunately, the government started to fight fire with fire.
They took Zapata’s family hostage and started burning down villages.
They also began putting the survivors into concentration camps.
The actions of the government actually started to help Zapata.
He began to gain many followers.
His following soon grew to 10s of thousands, this led to the falling of the government.
On December 6, 1914 two of Mexico's biggest revolutionaries met, Zapata and Pancho Villa
They spoke about reform.
This led to Zapata getting his land reform and Pancho Villa becoming the president.
After returning home from the meeting, Zapata put the plan of ayala into action.
They took back their land from the hacendados and even burned some of their properties down, when they refused to work with Zapata.
He even set up a rural loan bank to help peasants buy their own plots to form a real transformation.
But soon after, Venustiano Carranza, also seeking power, killed Pancho Villa and directed his attention on Zapata to try to rule.
He burned villages and killed civilians.
This time Zapata did not flee.
He stayed and fought back trying to use Carranza's own tactics.
However, the results left a mark of bloodshed on his legacy forever.
In 1917, Carranza issued a new constitution that basically ripped off the plan of Ayala.
For a fairer society, where peasants were actually treated as humans.
For many Mexicans, the Constitution of 1917 made Zapata’s fight seem pointless.
Zapata had technically won, but he could not or simply would not stop.
After Zapata heard of a military general that switched sides, Zapata arranged a meeting with this general and have him join him.
However, when Zapata got to the location of the meeting he was ambushed.
And dozens and dozens of soldiers took fire before he could say a word.
Zapata died that day, in a hail of bullets.
At the end of it all, what did zapata really achieve?
Why do we still know his name today?
To answer that look at the plan of Ayala.
Land reform was only a fight from a group of peasants in a small town of morelos to Something the whole of Mexico cared about.
Even today it affects how many in Latin America think when it comes to land rights.
But, Zapata was more than just a guy with a revolutionary plan.
In his years as a revolutionary….
He became known as someone who cared about the poor.
Someone who was uncompromising in his beliefs.
Someone who was willing to stand up to a rotten system.
He was far from a perfect man, but far more than just a man.
He was a folk hero, robin hood that existed and a myth brought to life.
For all his faults Zapata is one folk hero we can learn from and should never forget.
If there is no justice for the people, let there be no peace for the government.
I Am Emiliano Zapata.
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