Viva Zapata

Emiliano Zapata Salazar (August 8, 1879 – April 10, 1919)

A century after the heroism and exploits of Emiliano Zapata there are still Zapatistas that will fight for "true freedom" in Mexico. Viva Zapata is still a rallying cry for justice. The very name of Zapata evokes bravery and a spirit of uniting for a just cause. throughout America in Mexican restaurants and local stores his picture is displayed and often along with his famous quote: "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees."

Often as I venture onto Facebook "Viva Zapata" will be echoed around historical, but present day events. I have heard or seen this rally more from non-Mexicans than Mexicans. Emiliano Zapata is world renowned.

Emiliano Zapata was one of the most important heroes of Mexico between 1910 to 1919. Even while he lived he was legendary. Many tales were told and many ballads were written. His grave is revered by the natives of South Mexico.

"It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees."

Emiliano Zapata’s parents were Gabriel Zapata and Cleofas Salazar. Gabriel Zapata trained and sold horses in the small central state of Morelos, in the village of Anenecuilco. Today the village is known as Ayala. Emiliano's family were Mestizos which were of mixed Nahua and Spanish ancestry. Emiliano was the ninth of ten children and a peasant from childhood. He had insight of the very difficult hardships of the area. Emiliano attained a limited education from his teacher, Emilio Vara. He had to care for his family because Emiliano’s father died when Zapata was 17. 

Mexico was ruled by Porfirio Díaz. He had risen to power in 1876. The social system was a prototypical-capitalist feudal system. There were large haciendas controlling most of the land. They made it hard for the independent communities of the indigenous who were usually forced into debt slavery on the haciendas. Porfirio Díaz ran local elections to favor the hacienda owners. Close confidants and associates of Porfirio Diaz were given offices in districts throughout Mexico. The “officials” were the enforcers of "land reforms" that pushed the haciendas out of the hands of the indigenous and into the hands of the fewer and wealthier landowners.

Zapata’s were considered middle class and were able to avoid peonage and to maintain their own land.  Zapata had the reputation of a dandy. He appeared at bullfights and rodeos in an elaborate cowboy outfit. He attended a meeting in Cuautla in 1906 to discuss a way to defend the land of the people. He had worked such land as a farmhand. In 1908, he was drafted into the Ninth Regiment and sent to Cuernavaca.

His foppish attire suggested an affiliation with the rich hacendados but he retained the admiration of the indigenous people of Anenecuilco.

In 1909 a meeting was called by the elders of Anenecuilco. José Merino was the chief elder of the village and well respected. Merino was resigning from his position due to old age and limited abilities. Zapata became the new council president without contest.

Zapata had turned 30 only a month before. Though young, the village had complete confidence in Emiliano.

Zapata was the leading figure in Anenecuilco. His family had lived there for generations. He was involved in struggles for the rights of the campesinos of Morelos. He was able to oversee the redistribution of the land from some haciendas peacefully. He had problems with others. He observed numerous conflicts between villagers and hacendados. He was familiar with the constant theft of village land. In one instance, saw the hacienda owners torching of an entire village.

He campaigned for many years for the rights of the villagers. He established their claims to disputed land through ancient title deeds. He pressed the governor of Morelos into action. He eventually became disgusted with the slow response from the government and the bias towards the wealthy plantation owners. Zapata began using armed force to take over the land in dispute.

The 1910 Revolution

Zapata perceived Francisco I.Madero to be the best chance for change in the country

In 1910, Zapata became the general of an army that was formed in Morelos – the Liberation Army of the South.

With the support of Pancho Villa, Pascual Orozco, Emiliano Zapata, and rebellious peasants, Zapata joined Madero’s campaign against President Diaz. Madero overthrew Díaz in May 1911 in the battle at Ciudad Juárez.

Francisco León de la Barra formed a provisional government and some new land reforms were carried out. Elections were to be ensured. However, Zapata became dissatisfied with Madero's position on land reform and was unable to make him understand the importance of the issue or get him to act on it.

Madero was not ready to make the needed, radical change. Some called "anarcho-syndicalist agitators" were intent to take things back to the way that they had been previously. Zapata was unsure of the sincerity of Madero's actions and was undecided if he should support him completely.

The relations between Madero and Zapata worsened during the summer of 1911. Madero was appointed a governor. Modero supported plantation owners and refused to meet Zapata’s agrarian goals. Their negotiations failed in November 1911 just days after Madero appointed himself President. Zapata and Montaño fled to the mountains of southwest Puebla. It was there that they formed the most radical reform plan in Mexico; the Plan de Ayala.

Zapata was partly influenced by Ricardo Flores Magón an anarchist from Oaxaca. named. Zapata's anarchism came through a local schoolteacher, Otilio Montaño Sánchez, who exposed Zapata to the works of Peter Kropotkin and Flores Magón at the same time as Zapata was beginning to participate in the struggles of the peasants for the land. Otilio Montaño, later a general in Zapata's army, was executed on May 17, 1917.

The plan proclaimed Zapatista’s demands for “Reform, Freedom, Law and justice”. Zapata denounced Madero and declared the Maderistas as a counter-revolution. Zapata mobilized his Liberation Army. He allied with former Emiliano Vázquez Gómez and Maderistas Pascual Orozco. Orozco was from Chihuahua, near the U.S. border. He was able to aid the Zapatistas with a supply of arms.

Zapata knew the best route of attack was to center the fighting and action in Cuautla. If this political situation could be overthrown, the army could control the state. They could negotiate for Cuernavaca or attack it directly. They could maintain independent access to Mexico City and escape routes to the southern hills. In order to gain this great success, Zapata knew his men must be better armed and trained.

When Zapata and his men controlled the area behind and below a line from Jojutla to Yecapixtla, it gave the army the ability to complete raids and wait. If the opposition of the federal army and police detachments dissipated, the army would be able to gain control over key locations as in the Interoceanic Railway from Puebla City to Cuautla. If this was accomplished, it would gain access to Cuautla and the city would fall.

The plan was carried out and saw amazing success in Jojutla. But, Torres Burgos, the commander of the operation, was confounded about how the army could disobey his orders against looting and ransacking. The army took complete control of the area. Torres Burgos lost any type of control over his forces. Burgos called a meeting and resigned from his position. He left Jojutla with his two sons.  A federal police patrol surprised Burgos and shot all three of the men dead. Zapata was ready to take up where Burgos had left off.

Rebels elected Zapata as "Supreme Chief of the Revolutionary Movement of the South". Zapata would have to convince his peers he was deserving.


Zapata became the leader of his "strategic zone." It gave him tremendous power and control over more rebel groups and his success greatly. A meeting with Zapata and Ambrosio Figueroa in Jolalpan determined that Zapata would have power with Figueroa with regard to operations in Morelos. This was a major turning point for authority and influence that Zapata had gained. It proved useful in the overthrow of Morelos.

Zapata used his newly-found power and overthrew city after city with growing momentum. Madero was alarmed and asked Zapata to disarm. Zapata was reported to have said that, if the people could not win their rights when they were armed, they would have no chance once they were unarmed and helpless. Several generals were sent by Madero to deal with Zapata. These efforts had little success. It appeared that Zapata would soon overthrow Morelos. Then the Treaty of Ciudad Juarez was signed. This officially ended the civil war.

This made individuals believe that the revolution was over. It was not. The fighting continued for years to come. Mexican individuals did not have rights that were fair. They didn’t have the protection needed to fight those who pushed this exploitation on them.

Ambushed-Murdered

Government forces could never completely defeat Zapata. In 1919, he was murdered in a carefully staged ambush by Gen. Pablo González and his lieutenant, Col. Jesús Guajardo. They were supporters of the Mexican president, Venustiano Carranza. Guajardo proposed González feign defection to Zapata's forces. González agreed. To make the defection appear sincere, he arranged for Guajardo to attack a Federal column. They killed 57 soldiers. Getting word of the attack on the soldiers, Zapata agreed to a meeting to speak about Guajardo's defection.

On April 10, 1919, Guajardo invited Zapata to this meeting. He intimated that he intended to defect to the revolutionaries. When Zapata arrived at the Hacienda de San Juan, in Chinameca, Ayala municipality. Immediately, Guajardo's men riddled him with bullets. They took his body to Cuaatla to claim the bounty. It is told that they were given only half of the filthy lucre promised.

After Zapata's death, the Liberation Army of the South fell apart. Zapata's heir apparent Gildardo Magaña and many other Zapata adherents went on to political careers as representatives of Zapatista causes and positions in the Mexican army and government. Some of his former generals like Genovevo de la O allied with Obregón while others eventually disappeared when Carranza was deposed.

Legacy

Years before George H.W. Bush became President of the U.S., he named his off-shore oil company "Zapata oil". This was actually a front for staging CIA attacks on Cuba. The failed Bay of Pigs invasion was called Operation ZAPATA. The name choice may have been the result of inspiration for a peasant revolt.

Zapata's influence lasts to this day. Zapata is one of the most revered national heroes of Mexico. To many Mexicans, specifically the peasant and indigenous citizens, Zapata was a practical revolutionary who sought the implementation of liberties and agrarian rights outlined in the Plan of Ayala. He had a realistic goal of achieving political and economic freedom for the peasants in southern Mexico, and leading them out of severe poverty.

Emiliano Zapata entrevistado por periodistas. 1914-1919.

Emiliano Zapata

Historia de Emiliano Zapata

Historia de Emiliano Zapata_2

Historia de Emiliano Zapata_3

EMILIANO ZAPATA

Viva Zapata! (1952) Trailer

Viva Zapata! The Movie- starring Marlon Brando, Jean Peters.

Viva Zapata! -The Movie! This 1952 film depicts a fictionalized picture of the life of Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata starring Marlon Brando It follows his peasant upbringing and rise to power in the early 1900s, to his death. Viva Zapata was produced by Darryl F. Zanuck and directed by Elia Kazan.

Marlon Brando in Viva Zapata!

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Comments 43 comments

Ghost Whisper 77 profile image

Ghost Whisper 77 6 years ago from The U.S. Government protects Nazi War Criminals

A long and interesting read. I have difficulty with history and such, so it took a bit for me to read and comprehend. Intersting--the "legacy" you added. Surprised? Nope.

You are certainly diverse in your writings Mickydee! I miss you! How have you been?


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago Author

Howdy. I'm afraid I'm still me. I'm still in Micky Dee World- right here. RUOK? Thanks for dropping by and commenting!


Unchained Grace profile image

Unchained Grace 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

OK. As usual, the two of us show up in the same place at the same time. Micky, this was excellent and the research and time involved clearly shows you got it goin' on with the history. I actually knew some of it, though there were many parts I didn't. I could, however, tell you some dirt on Operation: Zapata. My dad was assigned to a SAC base during that time and there are some things I could tell you, though not here in the comments section.

Great work and thank you! I miss you on my Hubs, Mick! If you don't show up, I'm gonna cry, sit in the corner and hold my breath until I pass gas. So, how ya like me now?


Ghost Whisper 77 profile image

Ghost Whisper 77 6 years ago from The U.S. Government protects Nazi War Criminals

Oh my gosh Mickydee will you please go visit Unchained Grace's hub IMMEDIATELY before he causes a neuclear explosion here in hubberland and wipes us all out!


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago Author

Yo. I'll come over to check you out. I'm not getting a feed on everything that's put up.I searched GW's site before I was notified about her latest. I've been putting up some hubs. Wrote about a bike ride from a decade and more ago. Got one hit on that. Put this up about Zapata. I changed every sentence. Got flagged for duplication. Took much material out- still flagged. There are no "new facts" about somebody's life. All I can do is rearrange the info. I put up up hours of work, photos, unusual info- my scores drop. The more I work- the more my scores suffer. I don't really care. I'm not doing this for scores- however - should I compare with the content out there? If comments drop much more I'd just as soon put this up on the Bicycle Inn website and forget hubpages. I make no money from it. The scoring is based on money, attendance at forums, and what?

Anyway- thanks for stopping by and commenting!


Unchained Grace profile image

Unchained Grace 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

Micky, there is undoubtedly a whole lotta stuff up there on Zapata, so where else WOULD we get the info if not from some other place? They gotta realize that. I'm not overly concerned about scores and money and all that up here. I was, but there ain't no real way I'm going to make much with the category I write in, so I just am glad people come and hopefully get something out of it.

I may or may not render a nuclear explosion, but give me a plate or two of refried Mexican beans and I'll scare Satan right back down into his little pit. He'll think it's Armageddon!


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago Author

Hey Bud. I don't care either. I check the numbers and think like I do about a lot. I could license to race for the USA Cycling this year but when it really comes down- I don't care what the standings are. We're all just lucky to be here. Or something.


Ghost Whisper 77 profile image

Ghost Whisper 77 6 years ago from The U.S. Government protects Nazi War Criminals

Oh Mickydee-don't leave hub pages! :*( I would honestly be so upset if you did. I care about you and so do many others...who cares about hub scores and money....and tell UG to pass on the refried beans will ya Micky?


creativeone59 profile image

creativeone59 6 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

Thank you Micky for a very interesting hub, I'm not really up on Zapata, but it was interesting just the same. Godspeed. creativoen59


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago Author

I wrote an email to Hubpagehelpers or whatever. I'm working and not getting a lot out of it. I try to visit every hub that I'm notified about and then some. I guess my "hubpage world" is pretty small. I try to make my hubs worthy. I try to put the truth in them. That's all that matters to me. I expect people to be people.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago Author

Thank you Creativeone. You're very kind as always. I do appreciate you. Thanks for stopping by.


Unchained Grace profile image

Unchained Grace 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

Mick, I don't get a whole lot of different people either, but the ones I do get are loyal and right there. I'd rather have that, actually. Hangers on will do just that and most people on Hub Pages won't be clicking on the ads anyhow, so unless ya pull a boatload from the outside, we ain't gonna make much. Ya do what you can do for the ones who got your back. Forget the rest. Ain't nuthin' but a thing, anyway.

Hey, Ghosty, I already decided against the refried beans. I got somethin' better in mind!


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago Author

Cabbage?


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD

Very interesting. A piece of history I have little knowledge on, so thanks for the education.

Is this quote from Zapata: "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees."


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago Author

Thank you Ken. I appreciate your stopping by. The quote "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees" is Zapata's quote. Thanks


Petra Vlah profile image

Petra Vlah 6 years ago from Los Angeles

Hi Micky,

This is exactly the type of hub one can be proud of; well researched, informative, interesting, captivating and easy to read.

It is unfortunate that too many people are so obsessed with making a few pennies that they compromise quality and information. More than once I have seen practically the same hub with different names and same information repeated over and over again (written by the same huber).

In the end it is a question of defining oneself either as a writer with something to say and share or as a penny collector with nothing to say and concerned only with page viewers.

People without pride "live and die on their knees" as Zapata would probably say


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago Author

Thank you Petra Vlah. You make my heart rise above the "team hubpages". Thanks very much. You've made my day.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

Nice information. I never knew about him before. But I get new knowledge about his biography. Thanks Mickey for writing about him.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago Author

He was a great and Brave man Prasetio. Thank you for stopping by.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

Very informative and well written hub; I found it educational and entertaining; your selection of pictures and video fits your words well; I have studied Mexican history a little in the past, but I didn't know the opposition to the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz was so well organized. Thank you for educating me on the intimate details of the Mexican Revolution of 1910.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago Author

Thank you again Coolmon for stopping by and commenting. I do appreciate your coming by and commenting. Thank you very much. You have a lot more work I haven't seen so you'll be seeing me at Coolmonworld!


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

Ha Ha Coolmonworld sounds like a very interesting place; thanks for making me laugh :)


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago Author

Thank you! You might check out Pancho Villa. I added several videos over there. Be safe.


Ten Blogger profile image

Ten Blogger 6 years ago

That is an interesting read. I did not know about zapata... it invoked memories of similar stories of freedom fighters.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago Author

Thank you Ten Blogger. I wish freedom was for everybody. Everybody must take that stand. Thanks


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

His legacy and his life is an inspiration Micky, nice tribute and very good hub, Maita


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago Author

Thank you Maita. You are so very kind.


pmccray profile image

pmccray 6 years ago from Utah

Micky Dee: thank you for this historial lesson on Zapata. I paid money to see Brando mumble through Hollywoods slant on the reveloution, and couldn't make heads or tails out of what was said. I love the historial pics and footgage. Great Hub MD.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago Author

Thank you Pmccray. I'm glad you enjoyed it. He was/is a very important hero for Mexico. Thanks for coming by.


poetlorraine 6 years ago

brilliant, you sure worked hard to put that one together


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago Author

Thank you Poetlorraine. This was a bit hard. I went back and yook stuff off, I went back and put stuff on. I added videos. Oh well. Thank you for coming by. I hope you enjoyed some of the videos. Thank!


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

MICK! Well done! screw the points and pennies. I venture into Mexico every 3 moths or so. Sometimes I go down and rent a Hacienda with a couple of friends and we shoot dove all day when they are flocking in their movement. I get the children to pick them up and clean them, then they marinade and cook them up and I pay them for that and insist the join us for the evening meal. Next time I'm down south in Mexico I'm asking about Zapata and see what they think first hand. I'll be going in April or May to catch the Dove in flight. Thanks for the education!


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago Author

Thanks Dusty. Be careful down in Mexico. I wish I could speak Spanish. Hasta Linguini!


iskra1916 profile image

iskra1916 6 years ago from Belfast, Ireland.

Brilliant hub!

Great to see a quality hub!

Viva Zapata!


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago Author

Wow- Thanks very much Iskra. Viva Zapata!


iskra1916 profile image

iskra1916 6 years ago from Belfast, Ireland.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago Author

It's never ending. suppression and oppression are the norms of life. Hundreds of years but thousands of years. Power has to corrupt? Corruption is power? Nice video and music.

YA Basta! Viva Zapata!


Pachuca213 6 years ago

! VIVA ZAPATA!!! Ayyyyy ayyyyyyaaaaa (grite)

This was a fabulous hub, thank you for recognizing and showing the story of Zapata and the enormous influence he still has today in not only the Chicano society but also the southwest in general. What a great hub!


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago Author

Hi Pachuca. Thank you for loving Zapata! Viva Zapata!


healthgoji profile image

healthgoji 6 years ago

I like your very old photos. I have been to Mexico and they are very proud of their freedoms, even though they don't have much there they have their "freedom". I suppose they must owe some of it to this person you write about. Thanks for sharing your hub.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago Author

Hi healthgoji! Mexico was once the power of their world. Thank you healthgoji!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

You really put time and effort into this hub and it shows! Will have to come back and listen to more of the videos. Up, useful and awesome. I don't often use that word...but it fits this hub. Well done, Micky!


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 5 years ago Author

God bless you dear Peggy!

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