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Zapata
By: Nicholas Ortiz & Fábio Domaredzky
Emiliano Zapata Salazar, part of simple family - whose father was a mestizo peasant - was born in August 8th, 1879 in Anenecuilco, Mexico. For the early part of his life, he shared a job of a sharecropper and a horse trainer. He then enrolled into the Mexican army and for approximately seven years he became a sergeant. At the young age of 21, in September 1900, he was elected president of his community, designated to reclaim the community's ejidal lands: "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees" (his words directed to the hacienderos), supporting a slogan known as “Tierra y Liberdad”, which he is famous for having said.

He became known for being a strong advocator for agrarian reform and land redistribution. Zapata brought peasants together along with Madero in the Mexican Revolution to overthrow the dictatorship of Pofirio Diaz, whose’ rule was full of miserable low wages, abusive working condition, and illegal discrimination (not to forget to mention peasant uprisings and worker’s strikes due to the dictatorship). With an army of native people recruited from plantations and villages, he began to seize the land by force. He continued to support Madero until he believed that land reform had been abandoned [1].  Zapata then turned away from Madero and formulated his own agrarian program, which was outlined in the Plan of Ayala, which stated that: Madero was a traitor to the people of Mexico; land should be returned to the indigenous people; all lands stolen under Díaz’ power was to be immediately returned [1]. With considerable land fraud under the old dictatorship of Diaz, a great deal of territory was involved. The peasants rallied to Zapata's support - formed the group known as Zapatistas - and by the end of 1911 they controlled most of Morelos, later enlarging their area of power to cover Guerrero, Oaxaca, Puebla, and at times even the Federal District.[1] [2].

Emiliano Zapata soon after joined the fight in the Mexican Revolution with Pancho Villa, Carranza, and Obregon to relieve Mexico of Huerta’s dictatorship. He had made Huerta commit a considerable amount of his army in the south, what meant for Zapata to spring up a new movement up north. Zapata, Villa, Obregon, and Carranza had Huerta’s troops running all over Mexico. In the areas that were ruled by Zapata, confiscated estates were quickly distributed among the peasants. Once victory was achieved, relations between the four almost instantly turned down hill. Villa and Carranza, who disliked one another, began fighting each other even before Huerta was removed. Zapata didn’t like Carranza, so to an extent he sided with Villa. Zapata remained in the background of the Villa/Carranza conflict, attacking anyone who came onto his area in the south of Mexico. Obregón defeated Villa over the course of 1915, allowing Carranza to turn his attention to Zapata.

On April 10, 1919, Zapata was killed. Zapata had been tricked into meeting with one of Carranza's generals who supposedly wished to "switch sides." The meeting, though, had been a trap, and Zapata was killed as he arrived at the meeting.del.icio.

Links to internet based material

a.       Womack Jr., John. "The Plan de Ayala". 23/10/09 http://www.ilstu.edu/class/hist263/docs/ayala.html

                                                              i.      A reliable site of Illinois State University that gives a concrete and concise copy of the Plan of Ayala.

b.      Minster, Christopher. "Emiliano Zapata and The Plan of Ayala". 23/10/09 http://latinamericanhistory.about.com/od/thehistoryofmexico/p/planofayala.htm.

                                                              i.     Nice site that contains not only a brief history of Zapata and Madero, but also the reasons that led to the creation of the Plan of Ayala, with important sections including including the provisions of the plan, how it focused on land reform, the plan in revolution, and the importance of the plan. This source also contains various links to other related articles, including different sites about the Mexican Revolution.

c.       "Emiliano Zapata ". 23/10/09 http://www.answers.com/topic/emiliano-zapata

                                                              i.      A site that gives a whole lot of different versions of different websites of “Who was Emiliano Zapata”, actual biographies of his life from known sites and encyclopedias, good summaries with precise information. In the end of this source, there are links to possible questions related to Zapata.

d.      "Emiliano Zapata 1879 - 1919: Mexico History". 23/10/09 http://www.mexconnect.com/articles/316-emiliano-zapata-1879-1919

                                                              i.      A small but precise site that gives a short biographical view of Emiliano’s life. It also includes other articles like: “Zapata and the intellectuals” and “John Steibecks’s ‘Zapata’”, illustrated articles about this revolutionary leader, and one photo of Zapata.

e.       "Emiliano Zapata Biography.” 23/10/09 http://www.biography.com/articles/Emiliano-Zapata-9540356?part=2

                                                              i.      A dense outlined biography of Emiliano Zapata separated in three sections that characterized him, his early career, the Plan of Ayala, and the agrarian reform.

f.       Kent, Emerson. "Expert in Guerrilla Warfare for Mexican Land and Liberty". 28/10/2009 http://www.emersonkent.com/history_notes/emiliano_zapata.htm

                                                              i.      Very good source, with lots of pictures, illustrations, maps, among others that enhance the quality of the information posted with details, including links to other interesting sites about Zapata, and links to other sites about other figures of the revolution and the Mexican Revolution itself. There are also good videos about Emiliano, a real interview, and a video regarding his funeral. There are also some links to timelines, Mexican Revolution movies, and pictures.

Map that shows the reason for why the Plan of Ayala was called like that (because Zapata had his headquarters close to Villa de Ayala)
Map that shows the reason for why the Plan of Ayala was called like that (because Zapata had his headquarters close to Villa de Ayala)
Zapata on the right at the presidential palace
Zapata on the right at the presidential palace
“Tierra y Liberdad” – Zapata
“Tierra y Liberdad” – Zapata
Zapata represented change for Mexico.
Zapata represented change for Mexico.
Movie “Viva Zapata!” made in 1952
Movie “Viva Zapata!” made in 1952
Zapata illustrated in a cartoon.
Zapata illustrated in a cartoon.
Illustration by Diego Rivera, 1931
Illustration by Diego Rivera, 1931
This is a video that focuses on Zapata’s love of the land, showing a short idea of how his ideals are still part of today. A video that supports the commemoration of the bicentenary anniversary of Mexico, in a way of remembering old heroes that still need to be recognized by what the video said they did.

A video that has Spanish as the language of transmission; however, very good video about the history of Emiliano Zapata.

 Trailer in English about the famous movie made in 1952 about Emiliano Zapata known as “Viva Zapata!”, including Marlon Brando as the main character.

Suggested readings
Keen, Benjamin, and Keith Haynes. A History of Latin America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.

In pages 279-280, Benjamin Keen focuses on the role of Zapata as the opposition to Huerta, a Mexican dictator at the time. Keen also explains how Zapata intensified his struggle against local landowners in the South and assured the success of the revolutionary movement that sprang up anew in the north because Huerta had a strong political and economical influence on the North. This is a good source shared to describe two other revolutionaries at the time, were Keen focuses on the opposition movement organized by Zapata and the Zapatistas to overthrow Huerta’s influence over Mexico.