Mexico City, 1911-1913
Zapata meets Madero
Madero with Rebel Leaders
The two revolutionary leaders meet in Mexico City conferring on the future of the revolution. Zapata is clear: What interest us is that, right away, lands be returned to the pueblos, and the promises which the revolution made be carried out.
Madero says that the land issue is complicated. The most important thing is for Zapata to disband his troops. I’ll disband my boys as soon as the land is divided.
Zapata, his rural and indigenous roots out of place in this ornate city room, rises, walks to Madero and points his rifle at Madero’s gold watch.
Look, Senor Madero, if I take advantage of the fact that I am armed and take away your watch, and after a while we meet, both of us armed the same, would you have a right to demand that I give it back? Madero says that he would have that right and he would ask for interest as well. Well, that’s exactly what has happened to us in Morelos, where a few planters have taken over by force the villagers’ lands. My soldiers—the armed farmers and all the people in the villages—demand that I tell you, with full respect, that they want the restitution of their lands…right now.
John Womack, Jr., Zapata and the Mexican Revolution, 96
Defense of the Revolution
Madero has trusted the military and the hacendados and has distrusted Zapata and the men of the South. Those, he realizes as he sits waiting for execution, are his tow crucial mistakes. In a few days he will be dead. The man who rose up against him in a military coup was Victoriano Herta. And, ironically, it is Zapata who tried to save him.
Herta needs Zapata so he tries to negotiate with him. When that fails he tries to buy him off. Not today or ever will Emiliano Zapata betray the cause of his people. He tells Huerta:
We do not want the peace of slaves, nor the peace of the grave…We want peace based on liberty, on the political and agrarian reform promised by our political creed; we are incapable of trafficking with the blood of our brothers and we do not want the bones of our victims to serve as a staircase to public offices….
Robert P. Millon, Zapatas: The Ideology of a Peasant Revolutionary, 19-20