On a day like today in 1919 Emiliano Zapata was killed. The guerrilla leader of the Mexican Revolution fell to the troops of Colonel Jesús Guajardo; although the events were pure joy for the government, the population, who stood by the revolutionary heroe, were the ones who suffered from this terrible news, which ended the Zapatista movement.
In the pages of El Universal of April 11, 1919 it is quoted: “The troops of General Pablo González have achieved success in their campaign against the guerrilla. The soldiers of Colonel Jesús Guajardo, making the enemy believe that they were rebelling against the Government, arrived at the camp of Emiliano Zapata, whom they killed. His corpse was brought today to this city (Cuautla)”.
At that time, the president of Mexico, Venustiano Carranza, received a letter from Major General Pablo Gonzalez, head of the Army of Southern Operations, announcing the death of the agrarian fighter. In the document, Colonel Jesús Guajardo told Carranza that Zapata’s body arrived in Cuautla at 9:30 at night.
Zapata, the “El Caudillo del Sur,” as he was called, was killed in combat along with three other men. He was injected and prepared to be photographed to confirm his death nationwide.
On April 11, 1919, they announced: Emiliano Zapata, defeated and killed by troops of General Pablo González.
“Emiliano Zapata, the most tenacious rebel leader in the southern region, has died; Zapatismo, without its man-flag, has ended, and will definitely come to the vast and ferocious region where panic and crime reigned, the desired tranquility of all. Morelos, Guerrero and Puebla, who suffered so much tenacity and prejudice from the uprisingers, will soon see the threat to their interests and the insecurity of their lives formally extinguished.
Long was the struggle and persecution of the most rebellious of the revolutionary leaders… Bloody and painful was the loss of men in the persecution of the Zapatista group and its leader, but the Republic received the benefit of the danger disappearance”.
The Deadly Plan
By 1918, Emiliano Zapata was a guerrilla leader with a bleak future, since his movement was a manifestation of peasant discontent in the face of constant battles; few ammunition, the death of important leaders and the agrarian law of President Venustiano Carranza, which appeased the South of Mexico´s cause and contributed to the fact that by that year a real political-military organization was not consolidated. Being a rebellion of peasant masses, he limited himself to carry out his guerrilla warfare from 1918. It was General Jesús Guajardo who made Zapata believe that he was unhappy with the Carranza government and that he would be willing to join him. Gonzalez, chief of operations of the Army of the South, for months planned the way to deliver the mortal blow that would put an end to the mythical revolutionary heroe.
According to diverse statements Guajardo made to that year’s El Universal correspondent, Zapata ordered the General to attack the plaza of Jonacatepec, a municipality in the state of Morelos.
Zapata visits Jonacatepec
Emiliano Zapata, distrustful of the new ally, did not want to lose sight of him. And from the top of the Rock of Jantetelco he witnessed Jonacatepec’s attack, testifying that what he asked for was really being done. He saw when the allies entered the conquered city with blood and fire, and he saw the escape of the defenders. And once he received the notice of victory, followed by his General Staff and his escort, he descended from the Rock and headed for the municipality of Morelos.
Emiliano Zapata remained in Jonacatepec until the following day. Together with his troops, accompanied by Guajardo and his escorts, they went to Petlalcingo, Puebla, where he had his camp.
The culminating moment had arrived. Colonel Guajardo had some of his men try to mingle with the Zapatistas in order to get to know their projects. That’s how he learned that Zapata’s advisors told him not to trust him. He knew that people were already murmuring about this alliance that Emiliano’s friends did not believe in, and that he should be careful with this “new ally”.
Beer and aguardiente
On April 10, Guajardo sent an emissary to Zapata, to tell that he wanted to talk to him. To this end, he invited him to drink a few beers at the Chinameca hacienda. Zapata accepted and promised to attend at noon along with some of his generals.
Immediately the colonel arranged for the reception to be given to the leader. He ordered that forces of 10 men pay him the honors corresponding to his high degree. And in the room that served him as lodging he prepared a table, with bottles of beer and aguardiente.
Guajardo was in that task, when the Zapatista generals, Castrejón and Amole, who had already gone ahead of their chief, showed up. The three of them, like old friends, drank a few glasses of aguardiente. The alcohol erased mistrust and they treated each other as if they were comrades. The three of them were in the gathering, devoted to the pleasure of alcohol, when a greeting paralyzed the place, General Emiliano Zapata had arrived.
Guajardo, Castrejón and Amole got up and reached the gates of the place. From there they saw how Zapata approached the room together with his private secretary, Feliciano Palacios; his nephew Maurillo, from his General Staff, as well as an escort of 150 men.
Everyone’s attitude was suspicious, everyone had their weapons ready and approaching them. On seeing them arrive, the 10 men who paid tribute to Zapata and presented him with gifts, decided to precipitate events.
Suddenly, those 10 men prepared their weapons and a discharge was heard. The first to fall was Zapata, wounded by several bullets.
The companions of the Southern Caudillo and his escort prepared themselves for the defense, thus initiating the combat. When the escort saw the private secretary, Palacios, Zapata’s nephew and several of the General Staff mortally wounded, they retreated.
Generals Castrejón and Amole pulled out their pistols, but Guajardo managed to kill them first. When the colonel left the room, he discovered that the Zapatista army had already withdrawn from the place.
This happened at four o’clock in the afternoon, and Guajardo, in order to prevent the army of the agrarian guerrilla from avenging the death of its leader, ordered the field to be burned, had Zapata’s corpse placed, crossed over a horse, and headed for Cuautla, where he arrived at 9:30 PM.
General Pablo González was warned; he went to the place and, in order for them to verify that it was Emiliano, he summoned a Zapatista guerrilla leader, a man named Jáuregui, head of the revolutionary’s Staff.
After the body was injected to last longer without decomposing, Zapata was exposed for two days to the public in the plaza of Cuautla. More than three thousand people were able to see the corpse, at the same time that they affirmed that it was the “Atila from the South”.
He was taken to Tlaltizapán to be buried in the monument erected there by Zapata himself so that the remains of those who subscribed to the Plan de Ayala, flag of the Zapatista movement, could be kept. The correspondent for El Universal reported that with the death of El Caudillo del Sur, Zapatismo became extinct. In Morelos, there were few sympathizers left, and most of its inhabitants protested their adherence to the government.
On April 12, 1919 the body of Emiliano Zapata was ordered to be buried in the pantheon of the city of Cuautla; the burial was carried out at 5:10 PM, it was attended by a large part of the inhabitants of Morelos.
Until that time the body remained exposed to the public, almost for 24 hours, thousands of people attended, incredulous to the news that Zapata had been killed.
The Yucatan Times with information and photos from “EL UNIVERSAL”