Assassination of Mexican Revolutionary Emiliano Zapata Part 3

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



The next day, Apr. 10, Zapata mounted his gift stallion, The Golden Ace, and rode with a bodyguard of 150 men to that hacienda. Shortly after the two men met in a plantation outbuilding, Zapata and his men left to check out rumors that federal troops had been seen in the area. Guajardo and his men remained to guard the hacienda. Upon their return at 2:00 P.M., Zapata and 10 of his followers entered the hacienda. The other Zapatistas remained outside as sentries.

Inside the hacienda walls, Guajardo's men had assembled in neat ranks like an honor guard. As Zapata and his 10 men rode across the square, a bugler called Guajardo's troops to present arms with three long notes. Zapata had dismounted and was stepping onto the stairs leading to the wooden veranda when the final note ended. At that signal, the assembled soldiers snapped their rifles to their shoulders and opened fire. Two quick volleys hit Zapata in the back, killing him instantly. The Zapatistas inside the hacienda were either killed or wounded; those outside fled.

Strapping Zapata's body onto a mule, Guajardo and his soldiers escorted it to the city of Cuautla that night to prove the assassination had been carried out. Once Gonzalez had identified the corpse, he had photographers snap pictures of it, at the police station and again two days later when Zapata was buried at the Cuautla cemetery. While the body was on display, thousands of peasants flocked to the city to see their slain hero.

While Zapata's death discouraged some of his followers, others fought on for their dead leader's ideals. When Gen. Alvaro Obregon led a revolt against President Carranza in 1920, many Zapatistas fought alongside him. With Carranza's overthrow, the civil war came to an end. The legend of Zapata, however, lived on. Even today some villagers in the south say their invincible leader still rides the Sierras, watching over his beloved people of Morelos.

The Assassin: For his part in the murder of Zapata, Guajardo received 50,000 pesos and was promoted to the rank of brigadier general by Gonzalez. Guajardo's reputation for ruthlessness and his hatred of agrarians soon made him one of Gonzalez's closest followers. It was a fatal friendship.

Shortly after Gonzalez sent Guajardo north to fight bandit leader Pancho Villa, Obregon's coup removed President Carranza from office. Caught in the power shift, Gonzalez was arrested. Within days federal troops had also arrested Guajardo and charged him with plotting a revolt to free Gonzalez. While smoking a cigar, at 6:30 on a bright July morning in 1920, Guajardo was executed by a government firing squad.

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