Iconic Photos

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Death of Zapata

with 7 comments

For all the narrowness of his goals, Emiliano Zapata surprisingly came to represent that decade-long struggle known as the Mexican Revolution. While others were fighting for the complete overthrow of the government, Zapata originally fought merely for agricultural reform and land repatriations. When the land reforms were not discussed after the initial revolution in 1911, Zapata fought on.

Although much had been made of his bravery and strategic insight these days, the fortunes of Zapata’s ragtag band was vacillating at best. Only frequent coups and governmental disarray saved his army from being annihilated. But by 1916, Zapata’s peasant revolution was faltering; Venustiano Carranza, an erstwhile rebel who was now in power, was determined to root out other rebel efforts; Carranza found Zapata and Villa’s movements most politically embarrassing and threatening for their proximity to Mexico City.

Facing defeat, Zapata tried unsuccessfully to form alliances with other revolutionaries who he had haughtily turned down years before. In 1919, while trying to lure a government colonel to his side, Zapata fell into a trap; when he arrived at the secret meeting place, Zapata was shot and killed by federal troops. Unfortunately for the government, in spranging this trap, they created a martyr in Zapata. Outside world, which had considered Mexico’s revolution as a comic nuisance before — and since — quickly condemned the assassination of a man who give it the oft-quoted phrase, Tierra y Libertad.

His movement was weakened and localized, but continued nonetheless. Carranza publicly displayed Zapata’s remains to convince people that Zapata was truly dead. It was on this occasion that the famed chronicler of the Mexican Revolution Agustin Casasola was invited to take the photo, which was widely circulated but failed to achieve the results Carranza had hoped. The claims that he was still alive persisted long after Zapata’s death.



Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

April 5, 2011 at 6:59 pm

7 Responses

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  1. You make history so interesting ..Zapata in particular!


    April 5, 2011 at 10:59 pm

  2. […] “Death of Zapata”. Iconic Photos nos recuerda esta histórica fotografía. […]

  3. Sorry to bust your myth, but this is *not* an iconic picture; it’s just a dead guy.
    Posting (not even) gruesome pics doesn’t fit with the past of this blog. And if a guy just happened to take a snapshot around a dead personality, the picture isn’t automatically an iconic one. Compare this lame image with the Robert Capa’s “death of a loyalist soldier” and maybe then you’ll see the… big picture 😉


    April 30, 2011 at 2:23 pm

  4. Viva Zapata

    manuel ornelas

    October 8, 2013 at 12:35 am

  5. Rest In Peace Mr ZAPATA..God Bless You

    Kristie Jiron

    October 26, 2013 at 4:57 pm

  6. Viva La Raza

    Kristie Jiron

    October 26, 2013 at 4:59 pm

  7. A revolutionary act is an act of GOD.


    December 22, 2015 at 6:30 am

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