Emiliano Zapata (1879-1919)
Emiliano Zapata was from the Morelos region of Mexico. He joined the army after being caught as a highway man. His other option was to be shot. After his release in 1910 he supported the liberals and had to take to the hills when they lost the elections despite having more votes. He was now the leader of an army of peasants and they fought and defeated the tyrant Don Porphyry. Then the liberal Francesco Madero came to power and he spoke of freedom of the press and democratic elections. Zapata published a charter which called for 'Land and Liberty.' Despite the charter not much changed and eventually power struggles broke out again.

In the course of the following years Zapata in the south and Pancho Villa in the north defeated many power mongers who tried to grip the reins of power. Yet, despite many opportunities Zapata never took control himself. "A strong people do not need a government" he once said. Zapata was influenced by the manifesto drawn up by Ricardo Flores Magon (Mexico's leading anarchist at the time who went on to die in an American prison). In the manifesto issued by Zapata and signed by 35 officer in August 1914 he wrote "It (the country) wishes to destroy with one stroke the relationships of lord and serf, overseer and slave, which in the matter of agriculture are the only ones ruling from Tamaulipas to Chiapas and from Sonora to Yucatan". During the revolution the 'Zapatistas' destroyed public papers, deeds, property transfers, titles and mortgages in the hope that the land would return to the only true owners, the people. In 1919 Zapata was lured into an ambush and killed.
("Red & Black Revolution", Oct. 1994, WSM publication)