Monday, November 24, 2008

Zapata vive! (Zapata lives)

One of the characters that always appears in the children´s parade on the Day of the Revolution, Nov. 20 is EMILIANO ZAPATA.
Born August 8, 1879, he was a small farmer who did not own the land he worked.
At that time, Mexico was ruled by a dictatorship under Porfirio Díaz, who had seized power in 1876. The social system of the time in the country consisted of large landed estates (haciendas) controlling more and more of the land and squeezing out the independent communities of the indigenous and mestizos, who were being forced into debt slavery on the haciendas.
During the years of the Mexican revoution, 1910 -1919, Zapata formed and commanded an important revolutionary force, the Liberation Army of the South. Zapata fought for for land and liberty, he campaigned for the restoration of village lands confiscated by the large estates. His slogan was "Tierra y Libertad." His Plan of Ayala which called for the seizure of all foreign owned land, all land taken from villages, confiscation of one-third of all land held by "friendly" hacendados. On April 10, 1919, Zapata was tricked into a meeting with one of Carranza's generals. The meeting was a trap, and Zapata was killed as he arrived at the meeting.
There is a modern group of campesinos in Chiapas who call them Zapatistas after Zapata, mostly because they want land and autonomy for the indigenous villages in parts of Chiapas.

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