Today in Latin America, the death of Emiliano Zapata

zapata-sparypaintToday, 90 years ago, in 1919, Emiliano Zapata was murdered by Col. Jesús Guajardo in collusion with the Carranza administration. With the violence not breaking after a decade of revolution, today Zapata met with the Colonel under the auspices of defection to the revolutionaries. Guajardo had long hated Zapata (“Zapatista trash” was the color brought by Carranza) and expressed desire to challenge him man to man.

To let Zapata roam around the countryside, as they saw it, had the possibility of sidetracking whatever revolution they felt was being obtained in Mexico City. Gen. Pablo González gave Guajardo the order to set up a meeting with Zapata and capture him, dead or alive. If alive, a quick Mexican-style piece of justice would be preformed with quick execution to follow (a great account leading up to the execution in Womack’s classic Zapata and the Mexican Revolution). Zapata and his men were ambushed and fired upon. Guajardo took his body and began the journey, via mule, to Cuautla, then to Mexico City. Gen. González thought it was too good to be true and readied the army, in case, of course, Zapata had killed Guajardo and was on his way to the capital in revenge.

Carranza and his men felt this to be the end of “Zapatismo” – although very shortsighted. Loyalties were fierce, and still are. Men were frustrated at the time of Guajardo’s rise after the plot. Others in the army defended Zapata, moreover his Plan de Ayala, which called for land and agrarian reforms. The Liberation Army of the South fell apart without Zapata, as the revolution began to be exploited as a triumph as the people fighting were still impoverished and poor. Carranza would be deposed, Obregón would take his place. Genuine achievements would be accomplished, but authoritarian one-party rule was hardly what so many died for. Zapata is still a symbol to the lost revolution, one carried on by the Zapatista’s in Chiapas since 1994. Still used in slogans: “If Zapata lived, he would walk with us.”

For a great book I’ve recently checked out, read the fantastic The Posthumous Career of Emiliano Zapata by Samuel Brunk.

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~ by Daniel on April 10, 2009.

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