EMILIANO ZAPATA (1879–1919)
Deeply committed to the Amerindian philosophy of cherishing the land and zealous about keeping it in the hands of the native peoples, Emiliano Zapata became a staunch advocate of equal land rights and social justice. In the midst of the Mexican Revolution he authored the Plan de Ayala, adopting the slogan tierra y libertad, land and liberty. Born in 1879, Zapata began his life as a revolutionary in 1910 with a planned coup d'état against then Mexican dictator Porfirio Díaz. Zapata aligned his forces with Francisco I. Madero, who eventually assumed the presidency after Díaz was successfully deposed. Zapata became disenchanted with Madero when the president failed to fulfill promises pertaining to agrarian reforms. Victoriano Huerta, a supporter and former general under Porfirio Díaz, would later remove Madero from office. The new president enraged both the Zapatistas and other revolutionary militias, leading Zapata to instigate another coup.