Tlaltizapan, 1911: Zapata and the Liberating Army of the South

zapata theagrarianleader

Zapata by Diego Riveria 

His men follow him out of cariña.  They admire and respect him, feel tender toward him because he trusts them and does not seek power or glory for himself.  He is so loyal to his own troops that his enemies defect to join him.  The people of the South believe he is the champion who will right all wrongs.  To some he is a father, to others a son or brother, to still other—a savior.

He is obsessed with staying true to the people.  Never able to betray a promise, he detests the politicos in Mexico City and continually refuses to go there for talks.  His headquarters are out in the countryside he loves so dearly.  He says, The land free, the land free for all without overseers and without masters, is the war-cry of the revolution.

The liberating army of the South is a people’s army.  The men and women are primarily villagers and secondarily soldiers.  Zapata insists on the primacy of village democracy and control.  The national duty is to uphold the dignity of village life.

He sets up his headquarters in Tlaltizapan; his offices are in an old rice mill on the edge of town.  It is a little town with a shady square where people relax in the evening with a beer and talk of the weather and prices.  Zapata joins them when he can, savoring a good cigar and savoring his people.

-John Womack, Jr., Zapata and the Mexican Revolution, 241-243

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