|Birth Day:||August 8, 1879|
|Death Date:||Apr 10, 1919 (age 39)|
|Birth Place:||Anenecuilco, Mexico|
As per our current Database, Emiliano Zapata died on Apr 10, 1919 (age 39).
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He was not very well educated, and began supporting his family at the age of 17.
In 1909, an important meeting was called by the elders of Anenecuilco, whose chief elder was José Merino. He announced "my intention to resign from my position due to my old age and limited abilities to continue the fight for the land rights of the village." The meeting was used as a time for discussion and nomination of individuals as a replacement for Merino as the president of the village council. The elders on the council were so well respected by the village men that no one would dare to override their nominations or vote for an individual against the advice of the current council at that time. The nominations made were Modesto González, Bartolo Parral, and Emiliano Zapata. After the nominations were closed, a vote was taken and Zapata became the new council president without contest.
The flawed 1910 elections were a major reason for the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution in 1910. Porfirio Díaz was being threatened by the candidacy of Francisco I. Madero. Zapata, seeing an opportunity to promote land reform in Mexico, joined with Madero and his Constitutionalists, who included Pascual Orozco and Pancho Villa, whom he perceived to be the best chance for genuine change in the country. Although he was wary about Madero, Zapata cooperated with him when Madero made vague promises about land reform in his Plan of San Luis Potosí. Land reform was the central feature of Zapata's political vision.
Zapata joined Madero's campaign against President Diaz. The first military campaign of Zapata was the capture of the Hacienda of Chinameca. When Zapata's army captured Cuautla after a six-day battle on May 19, 1911, it became clear that Diaz would not hold on to power for long. With the support of revolutionary forces in the north, general Pascual Orozco and colonel Pancho Villa, and in the south, forces led by Emiliano Zapata, and rebellious peasants, Díaz was forced to resign the presidency. The Battle of Ciudad Juárez was a decisive event, showing the weakness of the Federal Army and its inability to prop up the regime. Rather than Madero immediately assuming the presidency of Mexico with the support of revolutionary forces, he signed the Treaty of Ciudad Juárez, which called for Díaz's resignation, allowed him to go into exile, set up an interim presidency under Francisco León de la Barra, and recognized the Federal Army rather than the revolutionary forces as the armed force of the state. Revolutionaries were to lay down their arms and demobilize and elections were to be held as soon as possible.
During the interim presidency, León de la Barra tasked General Victoriano Huerta to suppress revolutionaries in Morelos. Huerta was to disarm revolutionaries peacefully if possible, but could use force. In August 1911, Huerta led 1,000 Federal troops to Cuernavace, which Madero saw as provocative. Writing the Minister of the Interior, Zapata demanded the Federal troops withdraw from Morelos, saying "I won't be responsible for the blood that is going to flow if the Federal forces remain."
Compromises between the Madero and Zapata failed in November 1911, days after Madero was elected president. Zapata and Otilio Montaño Sánchez, a former school teacher, fled to the mountains of southwest Puebla. There they promulgated the most radical reform plan in Mexico, the Plan de Ayala (Plan of Ayala). The plan declared Madero a traitor, named as head of the revolution Pascual Orozco, the victorious general who captured Ciudad Juárez in 1911 forcing the resignation of Díaz. He outlined a plan for true land reform.
If there was anyone that Zapata hated more than Díaz and Madero, it was Victoriano Huerta, the bitter, violent alcoholic who had been responsible for many atrocities in southern Mexico while trying to end the rebellion. Zapata was not alone: in the north, Pancho Villa, who had supported Madero, immediately took to the field against Huerta. Zapata revised the Plan of Ayala and named himself the leader of his revolution. He was joined by two newcomers to the Revolution, Venustiano Carranza and Alvaro Obregón, who raised large armies in Coahuila and Sonora respectively. Together they made short work of Huerta, who resigned and fled in June 1914 after repeated military losses.
On April 21, 1914, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson sent a contingent of troops to occupy the port city of Veracruz. This sudden threat caused Huerta to withdraw his troops from Morelos and Puebla, leaving only Jojutla and Cuernavaca under federal control. Zapatistas quickly assumed control of eastern Morelos, taking Cuautla and Jonacatepec with no resistance. In spite of being faced with a possible foreign invasion, Zapata refused to unite with Huerta in defense of the nation. He stated that if need be he would defend Mexico alone as chief of the Ayalan forces. In May the Zapatistas took Jojutla from the Federal Army, many of whom joined the rebels, and captured guns and ammunition. They also laid siege to Cuernavaca where a small contingent of federal troops were holed up. By the summer of 1915 Zapata's forces had taken the southern edge of the Federal District, occupying Milpa Alta and Xochimilco, and was poised to move into the capital. In mid July, Huerta was forced to flee as a Constitutionalist force under Carranza, Obregón and Villa took the Federal District. The Constitutionalists established a peace treaty inserting Carranza as First Authority of the nation. Carranza, an aristocrat with politically relevant connections, then gained the backing of the U.S., who passed over Villa and Zapata due to their lower status backgrounds and more progressive ideologies. In spite of having contributed decisively to the fall of Huerta, the Zapatistas were left out of the peace treaties, probably because of Carranza's intense dislike for the Zapatistas whom he saw as uncultured savages. Through 1915 there was a tentative peace in Morelos and the rest of the country.
Zapata continued his work to try to unite with the national anti-Carrancista movement through the next year, and the constitutionalists did not make further advances. In the winter of 1918 a harsh cold and the onset of the Spanish flu decimated the population of Morelos, causing the loss of a quarter of the total population of the state, almost as many as had been lost to Huerta in 1914. Furthermore, Zapata began to worry that by the end of the World War, the United States would turn its attention to Mexico, forcing the Zapatistas to either join the Carrancistas in a national defense or to acquiesce to foreign domination of Mexico.
Through 1915, Zapata began reshaping Morelos after the Plan de Ayala, redistributing hacienda lands to the peasants, and largely letting village councils run their own local affairs. Most peasants did not turn to cash crops, instead growing subsistence crops such as corn, beans, and vegetables. The result was that as the capital was starving, Morelos peasants had more to eat than they had had in 1910 and at lower prices. The only official event in Morelos during this entire year was a bullfight in which Zapata himself and his nephew Amador Salazar participated. 1915 was a short period of peace and prosperity for the farmers of Morelos, in between the massacres of the Huerta era and the civil war of the winners to come.
Even when Villa was retreating, having lost the Battle of Celaya in 1915, and when Obregón took the capital from the Conventionists who retreated to Toluca, Zapata did not open a second front.
Through 1916 Zapata raided federal forces from Hidalgo to Oaxaca, and Genovevo de la O fought the Carrancistas in Guerrero. The Zapatistas attempted to amass support for their cause by promulgating new manifestos against the hacendados, but this had little effect since the hacendados had already lost power throughout the country.
In 1916, Carranza sent a force under General Pablo González Garza to attack Morelos from the northwest. The Zapatista generals Pachecho and Genovevo de la O who believed the former to be a traitor, struggled against each other, and Zapatista positions began to fall. First Cuernavaca, then Cuautla and then Tlaltizapán. In Tlaltizapan Gonzalez executed 289 civilians, including minors of both sexes. Throughout Morelos, thousands of civilian prisoners were stuffed on boxcars and carried to Mexico City, and further to the Henequen plantations of Yucatán as forced laborers. Zapata fled into the hills as his headquarters were raided, returning after a few months later to organize guerrilla resistance throughout Morelos. The brutality of the nationalist forces further drove the Morelos peasantry towards Zapata, who mounted guerrilla warfare throughout the state and into the Federal District, blowing up trains between Cuernavaca and the capital.
Zapata was partly influenced by an anarchist from Oaxaca, Ricardo Flores Magón. The influence of Flores Magón on Zapata can be seen in the Zapatistas' Plan de Ayala, but even more noticeably in their slogan (this slogan "Tierra y libertad" ("land and liberty"), the title and maxim of Flores Magón's most famous work. Zapata's introduction to anarchism came via Montaño Sánchez – later a general in Zapata's army, executed on May 17, 1917 (by order of Zapata) – who introduced Zapata to the works of Peter Kropotkin and Flores Magón at the same time as Zapata was observing and beginning to participate in the struggles of the peasants for the land.
In December 1918 Carrancistas under Gonzalez undertook an offensive campaign taking most of the state of Morelos, and pushing Zapata to retreat. The main Zapatista headquarters were moved to Tochimilco, Puebla, although Tlaltizapan also continued to be under Zapatista control. Through Castro, Carranza issued offers to the main Zapatista generals to join the nationalist cause, with pardon. But apart from Manuel Palafox, who having fallen in disgrace among the Zapatistas had joined the Arenistas, none of the major generals did.
Eliminating Zapata was a top priority for President Carranza. Carranza was unwilling to compromise with domestic foes and wanted to demonstrate to Mexican elites and to American interests that Carranza was the "only viable alternative to both anarchy and radicalism." In mid-March 1919, General Pablo González ordered his subordinate Jesús Guajardo to begin operations against the Zapatistas in the mountains around Huautla. But when González later discovered Guajardo carousing in a cantina, he had him arrested, and a public scandal ensued. On March 21, Zapata attempted to smuggle in a note to Guajardo, inviting him to switch sides. The note, however, never reached Guajardo but instead wound up on González's desk. González devised a plan to use this note to his advantage. He accused Guajardo of not only being a drunk, but of being a traitor. After reducing Guajardo to tears, González explained to him that he could recover from this disgrace if he feigned a defection to Zapata. So Guajardo wrote to Zapata telling him that he would bring over his men and supplies if certain guarantees were promised. Zapata answered Guajardo's letter on April 1, 1919, agreeing to all of Guajardo's terms. Zapata suggested a mutiny on April 4. Guajardo replied that his defection should wait until a new shipment of arms and ammunition arrived sometime between the 6th and the 10th. By the 7th, the plans were set: Zapata ordered Guajardo to attack the Federal garrison at Jonacatepec because the garrison included troops who had defected from Zapata. Pablo González and Guajardo notified the Jonacatepec garrison ahead of time, and a mock battle was staged on April 9. At the conclusion of the mock battle, the former Zapatistas were arrested and shot. Convinced that Guajardo was sincere, Zapata agreed to a final meeting where Guajardo would defect.
On April 10, 1919, Guajardo invited Zapata to a meeting, intimating that he intended to defect to the revolutionaries. However, when Zapata arrived at the Hacienda de San Juan, in Chinameca, Ayala municipality, Guajardo's men riddled him with bullets.
As Venustiano Carranza moved to curb his former allies and now rivals in 1920 to impose a civilian, Ignacio Bonillas, as his successor in the presidency, Obregón sought to align himself with the Zapatista movement against that of Carranza. Genovevo de la O and Magaña supported him in the coup by former Constitutionalists, fighting in Morelos against Carranza and helping prompt Carranza to flee Mexico City toward Veracruz in May 1920. "Obregón and Genovevo de la O entered Mexico City in triumph." Zapatistas were given important posts in the interim government of Adolfo de la Huerta and the administration of Álvaro Obregón, following his election to the presidency after the coup. Zapatistas had almost total control of the state of Morelos, where they carried out a program of agrarian reform and land redistribution based on the provisions of the Plan de Ayala and with the support of the government.
Zapata's Plan of Ayala influenced Article 27 of the progressive 1917 Constitution of Mexico that codified an agrarian reform program. Even though the Mexican Revolution did restore some land that had been taken under Diaz, the land reform on the scale imagined by Zapata was never enacted. However, a great deal of the significant land distribution which Zapata sought would later be enacted after Mexican President Lázaro Cárdenas took office in 1934. Cárdenas would fulfill not only the land distribution policies written in Article 27, but other reforms written in the Mexican Constitution as well.
Marlon Brando played Emiliano Zapata in the award-winning movie based on his life, Viva Zapata! in 1952. The film co-starred Anthony Quinn, who won best supporting actor. The director was Elia Kazan and the writer was John Steinbeck.
Many popular organizations take their name from Zapata, most notably the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional or EZLN in Spanish), the Neozapatismo group that emerged in the state of Chiapas in 1983 and precipitated the 1994 indigenous Zapatista uprising which still continues in Chiapas. Towns, streets, and housing developments called "Emiliano Zapata" are common across the country and he has, at times, been depicted on Mexican banknotes.
Zapata has been depicted in movies, comics, books, music, and clothing popular with teenagers and young adults. For example, there is a Zapata (1980), stage musical written by Harry Nilsson and Perry Botkin, libretto by Allan Katz, which ran for 16 weeks at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Connecticut. A movie called Zapata: El sueño de un héroe (Zapata: A Hero's Dream) was produced in 2004, starring Mexican actors Alejandro Fernandez, Jaime Camil, and Lucero.
Currently, Emiliano Zapata is 142 years, 4 months and 0 days old. Emiliano Zapata will celebrate 143rd birthday on a Monday 8th of August 2022.
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