Emiliano Zapata

Mexican revolutionary (1879-1919)

Emiliano Zapata Salazar (8 August 1879 – 10 April 1919) was a Mexican revolutionary. He was a leading figure in the Mexican Revolution of 1910–1920, the main leader of the people's revolution in the Mexican state of Morelos, and the inspiration of the agrarian movement called Zapatismo.

Quotes edit

I'd rather die on my feet, than live on my knees.
Ignorance and obscurantism have never produced anything other than flocks of slaves for tyranny.
The land belongs to those who work it with their hands.
  • ¡Tierra y Libertad!
    • Land and Liberty!
      • A slogan popularized by Zapata, quoted in Tierra y Libertad (1920) published by Imprenta Germinal; further attributed to Zapata in works in the 1930s and later, including, Without History: Subaltern Studies, the Zapatista Insurgency, and the Specter of History (2010) by José Rabasa, p. 122, where the influence of the anarchist Ricardo Flores Magón on its development is also attested.
  • I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
    • As quoted in Heroes of Mexico (1969) by Morris Rosenblum, p. 112
  • Prefiero morir de pie que vivir de rodillas.
    • I'd rather die on my feet, than live on my knees.
      • As quoted in Liberation Theologies in North America and Europe‎ (1979) by Gerald H. Anderson and Thomas F. Stransky, p. 281; this is sometimes misattributed to the more modern revolutionary, Che Guevara, and to "La Pasionaria" Dolores Ibárruri, especially in Spain, where she popularized it in her famous speeches during the Spanish Civil War, to José Martí, and to Aeschylus who is credited with a similar declaration in Prometheus Bound: "For it would be better to die once and for all than to suffer pain for all one's life." The phrase "better that we should die on our feet rather than live on our knees" was spoken by François-Noël Gracchus Babeuf in his defence of the Conspiracy of Equals in April 1797. In French it read, 'Ne vaut-il pas mieux emporter la gloire de n'avoir pas survecu a la servitude?' but translated this bears no resemblance whatever to the quote under discussion. see: The Defense of Gracchus Babeuf Before the High Court of Vendome (1967), edited and translated by John Anthony Scott, p. 88 and p. 90, n. 12.
    • Spanish variants:
    • ¡Prefiero morir de pie que vivir siempre arrodillado!
      • I'd prefer to die standing, than to live always on my knees.
        • As quoted in Operación Cobra : historia de una gesta romántica (1988) by Alvaro Pablo Ortiz and Oscar Lara, p. 29
    • Variant translations:
      • Men of the South! It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!
        • With an extension, as quoted in Timeless Mexico (1944) by Hudson Strode, p. 259
      • I would rather die standing than live on my knees!
      • It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!
      • I prefer to die standing than to live forever kneeling.
      • Prefer death on your feet to living on your knees.
  • La tierra es de quien la trabaja con sus manos.
    • The land belongs to those who work it with their hands.
      • Quoted as a slogan of the revolutionaries in Shirt-Sleeve Diplomat (1947) Vol. 5, p. 199, by Josephus Daniels, and specifically attributed to Zapata by Ángel Zúñiga in 1998, as quoted in Mexican Social Movements and the Transition to Democracy (2005), by John Stolle-McAllister
  • Ignorance and obscurantism have never produced anything other than flocks of slaves for tyranny.
    • Remarks in regard to Pancho Villa, as quoted in The Unknown Lore of Amexem's Indigenous People : An Aboriginal Treatise (2008) by Noble Timothy Myers-El, p. 158

Quotes about Zapata edit

  • How could a revolutionary man forget issues of women if he's fighting for human rights? How could you forget about the rights of your wife? That's precisely what I'm addressing in my story "Ojos de Zapata." I'm writing about one of Zapata's wives, and she's talking. I couldn't find anything about Zapata's wives. You don't know how many books I read! I've read over thirty books and I found a couple of paragraphs. One essay dealt with his wives and gave me names and children. It was not within the context of talking about his wives; it was the context of his progeny and how they have been victimized by the revolution. No one has ever written about the wives of Emiliano Zapata...Well, what was their story? Do you think they liked being part of a harem? According to historians he lived with three women at one point in Tlaltizapan and all with the utmost cordiality because they were sisters in the cause. Did he ask them? No! I think that we are all part of harems in a sense. It's easy for me to write this story because I've been in love with warriors like that too, and have had to share that warrior. How could that revolutionary even think about the rights that he was talking about and still oppress the women that he oppressed? I think about it when I research the dates and see a woman, a common-law wife, and then the year he married someone else and then went back, he had a child with his common-law wife. What did these women think? Those are the type of stories that I'm really interested in writing about. I can take my own viewpoints, personal viewpoints, and put them through the mouthpiece of this historical character because, of course, those are going to be the questions I ask as a woman when I read these books about Emiliano Zapata. This story started because I'm very much attracted to Emiliano Zapata as a character and as a figure and I thought there must be some reason why Emiliano Zapata haunts me. It's because he's the type of man who lives his political belief; he's not going to be talking about it. He lives it. I have always been attracted to those kind of men that have mucho coraje. I saw him as a true Mexican.
    • Sandra Cisneros 1990 interview in Conversations with Contemporary Chicana and Chicano Writers edited by Hector A. Torres (2007)
  • The historic January 1, 1994, indigenous uprising led by the Zapatistas in Chiapas further strengthened the new sense of self. By April 22, 1994, it seemed that the spirit of Mexico's revolutionary hero Emiliano Zapata had marched straight from the mountains of Chiapas to Dolores Park, San Francisco.

External links edit

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