mexican revolutionary

“I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees.”  Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata, whose Zapatista peasant army fought a long guerrilla campaign south of Mexico City.  This picture was taken in Mexico City in 1914, after the revolutionaries captured the capital.  However, the victors soon fell out, and Zapata allied with Pancho Villa against the liberal Constitutionalist faction.  He did die, assassinated in 1919, but still has an iconic legacy in Mexico today.

Emiliano Zapata, leader of the Liberation Army of the South, better known simply as the Zapatistas. One of the principal groups fighting in the Mexican Revolution, the far-left force was mostly drawn from the poor peasants of southern Mexico. Drawn together by the charisma of their leader, despite having been a major player for much of the past decade, the army didn’t last very long following his assassination in 1919.

(Fototeca Nacional del INAH)

On This Day: March 15
  • 1830: French anarchist Élisée Reclus was born at Sainte-Foy-la-Grande.
  • 1848: Hungarian Revolution begins, develops into a war for independence from Austria.
  • 1877: International Union of Painters and Allied Trades formed in Baltimore, USA.
  • 1887: Birth of Ben Fletcher, an African-American IWW organizer. He helped lead Local 8, longshoremen in Philadelphia.
  • 1911: United Mine Workers begin 6-month “Big Strike” for union recognition in the southeast BC Crowsnest coal mines.
  • 1916: President Wilson sends almost 5000 US soldiers over the U.S.-Mexico border to capture Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa.
  • 1917: 8-Hour Act approved by the US Supreme Court as workers threaten a national railway strike.
  • 1933: Assassination attempt in Shanghai on Japanese Minister to China Ariyoshi; 3 Korean anarchists, Paek Chung-kee, Won Sim-chang and Lee Gang-hyon arrested.
  • 1938: Nikolai Bukharin executed after a show trial. He had been a leading Bolshevik, who Lenin called the “Golden Boy” of the party.
  • 1965: A debate organised by the Inter-University Committee for a Public Hearing on Vietnam is held in Washington.
  • 1970: Native American activists occupy traditional land at Fort Lawton Seattle; 78 arrested.
  • 1983: Métis Nation of Alberta recognized with signing of an accord in Edmonton.
  • 1993: UN Commission Truth for El Salvador reports on human rights abuses; most committed by US-backed Salvadoran government organizations.
  • 2005: 2005 Quebec Student Strike: By now, over 100,000 students were on strike across the province.

Obregonia denegrii, a Mexican cactus known locally to natives as “peyotl” due to it’s close relation to the peyote cactus. This plant was named after Alvaro Obregon, an influential revolutionary figure and the president of Mexico from 1920-1924.    

Today in history: April 10, 1919 – Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata is ambushed and killed by a Mexican military colonel who tricked Zapata into meeting with him to supposedly arrange for the colonel’s defection to Zapata’s side. 

Zapata was a leading figure in the Mexican Revolution which broke out in 1910. He formed and commanded the Liberation Army of the South. He wrote the Plan of Ayala which raised the cry of “Tierra y Libertad!” (Land and freedom!). Zapata is still revered today. At marches the chant can often be heard, “Zapata vive - la lucha sigue!” (Zapata lives - the struggle continues!)

Via Freedom Road Socialist Organization (Fight Back!)

Pancho Villa, Mexican revolutionary warlord, bandit chief, and politician. Known to his friends as La Cucaracha (the Cockroach), his depredations of the US border during the Mexican Revolution provoked the American Punitive Expedition to catch him. Villa eluded his pursuers, but gave up his war in 1920 when he joined the Mexican government. Mexican President Obrégon, however, soon had his old enemy assassinated. When VIlla drove home from a mistress’s house one night, assassins with automatic weapons riddled him with bullets.


Tina Modotti 

Until her sudden – and some say mysterious – death at 45, the Italian-born artist lived an extraordinary life, morphing from silent-film actress to model, muse, photographer, Mexican revolutionary and (possibly) spy. Yet it wasn’t until the 1990s – when a cache of her photographs was discovered in a farmhouse in Oregon and several platinum prints, Roses and Calla Lilies, were auctioned for hundreds of thousands of dollars in New York – that her own photographic legacy and incredible story would come to light. (more)

Diego Rivera     The Abundant Earth, Mural at the Autonomous University of Chapingo, Mexico     1926

The figure in the foreground, with her back to the viewer, is Rivera’s comrade in the Mexican and International Revolutionary movement, the photographer Tina Modotti.