Emiliano Zapata and Porfirio Diaz Essays

Submitted By tretiak20
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Man has always been territorial. To some, land ownership represents a sense of economic security. It is also common for land to be passed from generation to generation. In the past, land ownership was also necessary for survival. It was also needed to plant crops for basic food necessities. Land ownership made it possible for man to become wealthy and powerful, as wealthy landowners were able to eventually control the poor masses. In Rome, the Patricians were the wealthy landowners. In feudal times the kings and queens owned the land, and controlled the serfs. This was also the situation in Mexico in the early 1900’s when more than ninety five percent of Mexico’s land was owned by less than five percent of the people (Argen 3). Emiliano Zapata became the champion of the poor, and he led a rebellion against president Porfirio Diaz in order to return the land to the poor.

Porfirio Diaz was born on September 15, 1803 in Oaxaca, Mexico to a poor family, whom had a mixed heritage (“Porfirio Diaz” 2). Diaz began training for priesthood at age fifteen when he was sent away to the Seminario Conciliar (Brenner 139). It wasn’t long before Diaz decided in 1855 that he would rather join the liberal rebellion, who were fighting a resurgent Antonio López de Santa Anna. From 1876 to 1880 Diaz served his first four years as president (“Porfirio Diaz” 7). After being elected a second time, Diaz then served as president, uninterrupted, from 1884 to 1910 for a total of 30 years. This is the longest term any president has served in Mexico (“Porfirio Diaz” 8). Mexican advocates praised Diaz, and some peasants considered him as royalty (Brenner 140). During the 1910 election Diaz decided he was not going to retire, but rather allow Francisco Madero to run against him. Madero was a landowner, a writer, and a spiritualist who came from a wealthy family and did not have a specific vision for Mexico other than Diaz stepping aside. Diaz had hoped for other candidates to run in this election due to his disapproval of Madero. Diaz had Madero arrested when it became apparent that Madeo would win (Brenner 142). Despite the controversy with Madero, the election went on. Days later, Diaz was re-elected causing an outburst of anger throughout Mexican citizens. On May 31, 1911 Diaz was forced to step down from office and left for Spain (“Porfirio Diaz” 9).

Emiliano Zapata was born August 8, 1879 in Anenecuilo, Mexico. Zapata was born into a poor family who owned their own land. As a young boy, Zapata worked as a farmer on their small sugar plantation. He quickly learned of the harsh situations in which the poor lived, as a result of the land ownership situation in Mexico (“Emiliano Zapata.” 2). The land was owned by a wealthy few while the poor lived as slaves working the land. Zapata did not agree with the lack of land ownership rights of poor. In 1909 he began defending his neighbors’ land from greedy landowners, and fighting for equal rights for them. That same year Zapata was elected mayor of his hometown by his respectful followers, making his name famous throughout Mexico (Minster 3). At the same time president Porfirio Diaz was being threatened by his presidential candidate Francisco Madero. Zapata saw this as a gateway to promote land reform in Mexico. He then supported Madero in the election as Madero had promised to help Zapata with his land reform rights (Argen 10). Madero did wish to create any significant progress in Mexico but rather was in a pursuit of personal power. He hoped that joining Zapata would increase his popularity (Argen 12). On May 19, 1911 it was obvious Madero had won and overthrew Diaz in the election. However, Zapata sensed that Madero had no real interest in land reform as Madero made no progress with his stance on the reform. On November 1911, in order to seek revenge, Zapata began to direct the battle towards Madero. Emiliano’s military tactics confounded his opponents, and In…