Assassination of Mexican Revolutionary Emiliano Zapata Part 2

About the assassination of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, history and account of the murder.



While setting his land reform ideas into motion, Zapata ignored the military side of the revolution. From the beginning he had fought primarily for the people of his native Morelos. Now that his troops controlled that state, he wanted to forget about fighting and get on with the farming. Yet even as Zapata neglected his military role, Pres. Venustiano Carranza was tightening his grip on the rest of the country. Determined to eliminate all rebel opposition, he sent an army led by Gen. Pablo Gonzalez to Morelos to defeat Zapata.

With Zapata back on the battlefield, his agrarian reform suffered. So did his people. Gonzalez and his government troops burned villages, destroyed crops, hanged peasants, and herded their families into detention camps. Zapata responded by putting haciendas to the torch. Battling desperately, the two armies eventually settled into a bloody stalemate, with Gonzalez controlling the major cities while Zapata ruled the hills.

The Date: Apr. 10, 1919.

The Event: In March, Gonzalez had quarreled with one of his officers, Col. Jesus Guajardo, and had thrown him in jail. A Yaqui half-breed, Guajardo was probably the best cavalry officer in the south. When Zapata learned of the arrest, he saw it as a chance to get Guajardo to defect with 800 soldiers and some badly needed munitions. Zapata sent Guajardo a note, which Gonzalez intercepted.

With an opportunity to trap Zapata, the general gave Guajardo a choice: cooperate or face the firing squad. Agreeing to go along with the general's plan, Guajardo sent word to Zapata that he wanted to join his forces. To convince the rebel leader of his sincerity, he staged a mutiny and occupied the government-held town of Jonacatepec in Zapata's name.

Throwing his troops against their unsuspecting federal comrades, Guajardo had had little trouble taking over the town. Among his prisoners were a detachment of former Zapatistas, who had gone over to the federal side and provided the government with some valuable help. To make this performance even more convincing to Zapata, Guajardo had these 59 men executed on the spot.

That evening the two men met for the first time. After exchanging abrazos, the embrace of friendship, Guajardo gave Zapata a handsome sorrel stallion. Throwing aside his normal caution, Zapata agreed to meet his new convert at Chinameca hacienda and discuss their plans. Zapata spent the last night of his life in the hills.

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