Government Atrocities

juvencio robles

Juvencio Robles

General Victoriano Herta carried out a military coup against Madero and had him assassinated.  Huerta and his men, under the direction of Juvencio Robles, wrought horrible destruction to the South. The government armies tortured, mutilated, and killed unarmed villagers and raped the women. They burned whole villages and used the tactic of creating concentration camps where they took the villagers.

The Zapatistas in the South and Villa and Venustiano Carranza in the North kept up the revolutionary struggle.  In 1914, they defeated Huerta.  Carranza and his wing of the revolution, called the Constitutionalists, came to power.  Carranza refused to implement the kind of sweeping land reform that Zapata wanted.  After a short peace, Zapata and Villa once again began fighting for what they believed was the real revolution.  Carranza became more conservative, siding with the politicos in Mexico City and losing sight of the campesinos in the countryside.  His troops carried out some of the same atrocities as Huerta, and in 1919 Carranza had one of his men betray and assassinate Emiliano Zapata.  The Zapatistas continued fighting under the leadership of Gildardo Magana.

-Morelos, 1919: Betrayal, Death and Resurrection

Morelos, 1919: Betrayal, Death and Resurrection


Colonel Jesus Guajardo

Zapata returns to Morelos with new energy for the struggle.  He is negotiating with Colonel Jesus Guajardo to defect to the rebels.  If that happens there will be the troops and the army to retake all of Morelos for the true revolution.  His spies pick up rumors of a trick, but Zapata restrains his suspicions.  Zapata meets Guajardo in his home territory, thirty-five miles from the village of Ayala, the town whose name bears the plan at the heart of the revolution.

At 2:10 p.m. on April 10, Guajardo orders a bugle honor call for Zapata.  As the last note dies away, Zapata reaches the doorway where the soldiers presenting arms shoot him at point blank range.  Emiliano Zapata, the “Savior,” is dead, killed by the orders of a Jesus who gets a fifty thousand peso reward.  Many months before, Emiliano Zapata had said, I want to die a slave to principles, not men.  He does.

The government sends the corpse back to the people of Morelos, so that they will verify his death.  The government believes that killing Zapata will kill the revolution.  Los humildes, the humble common people, file past the body and tremble from head to toe.  It hurt me as much as if my own father had died.  Some say it is not Zapata because the face is missing a mole or the hand is not missing a finger.  Some say they saw him riding in the hills. But there is no such resurrection.

The resurrection of Emiliano Zapata comes in the people he loved.  The resistance continues with Gilgardo Magana as Zapata’s successor.  A message circulates: Rebels of the South, it is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.

-John Womack, Jr., Zapata and the Mexican Revolution, 326-330

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