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Native American Lakota star Gathering of Nations Native American Lakota star
April 22-24, 2010
UNM Football Stadium

Avenida Cesar Chavez Blvd. SE (Hwy. 25, exit #223)

Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

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Native American Lakota star Zapata, The Story of a HeroNative American Lakota star
By Macedonio Arteaga

Please respect this copyrighted material. It is not to be duplicated for any purpose without explicit written permission from the copyright holder.                                              *Page Added on: 04/26/2010
    Violent uprisings in 1910 dictated the future of Mexico. Death danced with the revolutionaries in the streets. when the violence settled in 1924, over one million Mexicans had lost their lives. Calles, Obregon, Carranza, Villa, Cardenas and other great military leaders were quickly engraved into Mexican corridos and history books but there stood one whom at the time was considered to be a bandit by both the Mexican and American governments. Emiliano Zapata.

    Why was Zapata considered to be a bandit? Why did it take him so long to be seen throughout the world as an ideal revolutionary? Who was this man they called Zapata and why is he still admired today in Mexico and here in Aztlan by so many Chicanos?

    In order for us to understand the leader and his movement we have to trace his orgins. Emiliano Zapata was a dark brown man born in a town in the state of Morelos. Zapata matured quickly due to his orphanage at fifteen. By his early twenties he was a well established man who had his own small piece of land in which he filled and raised livestock to help his income. He was not poor in comparison to those around him but compared to other generals in the Mexican revolution, like Carranza and Obregon he was very poor. Zapata was very concerned about the poor and usually would speak on their behalf.

    Zapata was prepared to fight by 1910 when Madero through the Plan de San Luis encouraged the masses to revolt against the 34 year old dictatorship of Porfino Diaz. He was prepared to fight to rid the country of the dictator and to restore justice in Mexico. when Diaz fled the country Zapata had become more than just a rebel against Diaz, he was slowly becoming the conscience of the people of Morelos. Zapata became a leader for the campesinos who had endured generations of exploration by the wealthy landowners o hascendadaos.

    In 1911 Zapata and some of his comaneros signed El Plan De Ayala. The treaty demanded that the lands be returned to those who killed it. Zapata, eager to have the land returned to those who had lost their Tierra encouraged many to take back the land that was theirs even before Madero was elected into office.

    As Madero came into power he was very hesitant on the Plan De Ayala and the communications between him and Zapata froze. Madero was furious that Zapata was encouraging so many people to take back their land without waiting for him to carry out the land reform plan. Months later Madero began to send troops into Morelos to get rid of Zapata and his followers Madero made a horrible mistake, because Zapata's ideology had spread like a brush fire. In the nearby states of Guerrero and Puebla the campesinos had adopted the idea of land reform and had joined forces with the Zapatistas to reach his dream. When Madero sent different troops out to wipe out the Zapatistas they could never find an army to fight. Madero could not comprehend that Zapatistas had become the people of Morelos the young and the old, the woman and the children.

    Despite the burning of villages and fields the government under Madero could not get rid of Zapata. Madero even made an attempt to bribe Zapata with land and horses. Madero attempted to persuade Zapata to stop fighting and leave the reform up to him. Zapata did not accept the land and threatened to kill Madero within three days (the time it took to get to Mexico City from Morelos). Zapata's promise did not come true because Madero was assassinated by Victoriano Huerta, one of Madero's military commanders. When Huera came into power Carranza, Obregon, Calles and Villa were furious about the assassination which led them to rise up against him.

    The revolt only lasted until 1914 and by now the key players were Carranza and Obregon. Zapata and Villa united to fight for land and liberty and Carranza and Obregon for greed, money and power. After the uprising had terminated, the results were the same for Zapatistas. Carranza was backed by the United States and wanted no part of Zapata and his ideology. Zapata continued fighting on until 1917.

    In 1919, Zapata was brutally assassinated by general Gonzalez. Gonzalez had faked a surrender Zapata in the town of Chinameca in the state of Morelos. Even though many think that with his death his ideology died in Mexico, this is not true. "Zapatismo had become a gesture of protest of people who did not want to observe any more injustice." Days after his death it is believed that in the trees of Morelos it was written "it is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." the ideology of Zapata had carried on to the Chicano civil rights movement as many banners, shirts, and corridos were held in high esteem by the young Chicano leaders who asked for nothing more than a fair education, land and liberty.

    To say that a man of such great caliber was a bandit does not take into account the commitment of Zapata to the most disadvantage. Zapata died with a love for those who followed him and left us with an ideology that we can all carry in our hearts. "Tierra Y Libertad", Que via Zapata!!!

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