- Published: September 6, 2022
- Updated: September 6, 2022
- Language: English
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A Lack of Nationalism Whether loved or hated, it is clear that Emiliano Zapata was a prominent figure and leader during the early 20th Century Mexican Revolution. A Morelian peasant at heart, Zapata fought against the Mexican regime and hacendados in order to procure his state and its campesinos the land they once had farmed and owned.  From the beginning, Zapata made it clear that he did not intend to fight for personal gain as he himself hated being in the limelight and preferred leading a quiet life.
Zapata fought for his people and had no intention of making the Federal District his home, in fact he despised the city and the people that lived and did business there. Although quite successful at the local and regional level, Zapata found it hard to introduce his social and economic reforms at the national level. Although facing a strong opponent, Zapata’s troop’s behavior coupled with Zapata’s own lack of education and allies as well as a few flaws along the way may have caused Zapata’s lack of influence at the national level. 2] Due to Zapata’s lack of education and political background he had to rely on his intellectuals and advisors for many of his military and political actions and decisions. Zapata did not enjoy national politics and ensured that he was kept informed about the ongoing without having to constantly be in the country’s capital. For this job, Zapata hired people like Palafox which in the end may have hurt Zapata as men like Palafox were greatly interested in climbing to the top and perhaps bending a few rules to do so.
Palafox ended up offering his aid to Carranza in 1917in exchange for exile.  After fleeing from Zapata in 1918 after having been forgiven, Palafox once again betrayed Zapata by circulating information that the leader from Morelos was corrupt and as well as other false accusations.  Zapata, unable to trust himself with regards to national politics relied too heavily on his advisors instead of securing allies. Zapata found it difficult to secure himself such greatly needed allies as he insisted he have control over what was occurring in the military and political arenas such as the Convention.
He was not a man of compromise and was not open to northerners’ requests to add a few clauses to the Plan of Ayala.  Furthermore, Zapata often changed his top advisors which left him with too many opinions concerning the same issues and resulted in the lack of stability. The responsibilities of being the leader of the new Zapatismo ideology proved to be too much for Zapata. All he wanted was to be in Morelos spending time with his family.  Perhaps another reason as to why Zapata was unable to convince on the national scene was because of his troops’ reputation for their bad behavior.
Many complaints that had to do with robberies, murders, rape and the destruction or looting of villages were made concerning Zapata’s troops.  Moreover, many soldiers chose to defy orders or simply disappear. Drinking also proved to be a problem. This unprofessionalism on the part of Zapata’s forces did little to impress the important people at the national level as well as reduced the trust Mexican civilians had in Zapatismo. At a time when the United States, under Woodrow Wilson, proved to be a good ally to have, Zapata’s forces did little to impress them.
Upon hearing of certain embarrassing accounts concerning acts of barbarism inflicted by some of Zapata’s soldiers, President Wilson, in 1914, insisted on keeping Zapata out of Mexico City.  When Zapatistas lost land to the Constitutionalists they often reacted by taking out their anger on the village they were currently posted in or the people nearest to them. Zapata’s forces were tired of fighting for land they still were not able to call their own.
From 1915 and onward this situation would progressively get worse as terror and coercion became widely used by jefes employed by Zapata.  At a time when Zapatismo was becoming stronger as well as intricate it became progressively more difficult for Zapata to control and restrain his troops which sent the wrong message to both his allies as well as his opposition. Although unable to impress at the national level, Zapata left his mark on the regional and local levels and is seen as a symbol of resistance and leadership to sufficient numbers of landless peasants in Mexico.
Although Zapatismo was indeed violent and conflicted, its leader did ultimately fight for his land and his people which to this day is admired. ———————–  Samuel Brunk, Emiliano Zapata: Revolution and Betrayal in Mexico (University of New Mexico Press, 1995), xi.  Brunk, Emiliano Zapata, 234.  Brunk, Emiliano Zapata, 6  Brunk, Emiliano Zapata, 218  Brunk, Emiliano Zapata, 219  Brunk, Emiliano Zapata, 123  Brunk, Emiliano Zapata, 170  Brunk, Emiliano Zapata, 107  Brunk, Emiliano Zapata, 173.  Brunk, Emiliano Zapata, 179.
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