Emiliano Zapata is still…

…dead? Well, yes, but not really.

Today is the 90th anniversary of the death of revolutionary hero Emiliano Zapata.  Assassinated on April 10, 1919, the leader who fought for Mexico’s agrarian poor ceased breathing on this day, but he hardly stopped living.  He remains perhaps the most powerful symbol of the rights of the the poor to their land, and to the right to earn a living from that land.


While he most famous declared “It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees,” his ideas extended beyond the masculinist rhetoric of war.  His “Plan de Ayala” served as his movement’s revolutionary blueprint.  It read, in part:

In virtue of the fact that the immense majority of Mexican pueblos and citizens are owners of no more than the land they walk on, suffering the horrors of poverty without being able to improve their social condition in any way or to dedicate themselves to Industry or Agriculture, because lands, timber, and water are monopolized in a few hands, for this cause there will be expropriated the third part of those monopolies from the powerful proprietors of them, with prior indemnization, in order that the pueblos and citizens of Mexico may obtain ejidos, colonies, and foundations for pueblos, or fields for sowing or laboring, and the Mexicans’ lack of prosperity and well-being may improve in all and for all.

With the motto ¡Tierra y Libertad! (Land and Freedom!), Zapata remains a powerful force in the present-day indigenous movement which derives their name from his as well as countless other endeavors representing the rights of the poor.  In times like these, heroes like him are invaluable.

So, while the man died on this day, his legend is another thing altogether.

To learn more about Zapata, check out John Womack’s now famous book on the man and his life, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution.


12 thoughts on “Emiliano Zapata is still…

  1. Um, either they number their years differently in Mexico or he died in 1919, not 1909.

    yrs in historical accuracy,

    up the street & down the hatch

  2. poes yo creo q emiliano zapata es un mexicano a toda madre y es bien chingon porq el cambio el mundo y es un orgullo parra mexico.El se merece mucho respeto de todos porq fue un hero en todo mexico y se merece mucho respeto por todo lo q hizo y q descanse en paz y q dios lo bendiga y gracias por todo lo q hiciste por nosotros los mexicanos att..annie de morelia,mich de un pueblito q se llama tafetan

  3. Im actually the great great grreat grand daughter of Emiliano Zapata. Knowing of what he did for the poor makes me proud to say that hes mi familia. Emilano Zapata lives on in my familia. Im currently living in San Angelo, TX. even here…everyone knows of my heritage. Its a true honor

  4. I think this picture was stolen from the museum were Emiliano Zapata signed “El Plan de Ayala” in Ayoxuxtla de Zapata, Puebla, Mexico..

  5. Zapata the great.I am from ayoxuxtla de emiliano zapata puebla. And i been in the musean theres alot of great stuff.

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