Emiliano Zapata was born to Gabriel Zapata and Cleofas Jertrudiz Salazar of Anenecuilco, Morelos. Zapata's family were Mexicans of Nahua and Spanish ancestry; Emiliano was the ninth of ten children. A peasant since childhood, he gained insight into the severe difficulties of the countryside. He received a limited education from his teacher, Emilio Vara. He had to care for his family because his father died when Zapata was 17 and at La Mirada. Around the turn of the 20th century Anenecuilco was an indigenous Nahuatl speaking community; there are eyewitness accounts stating that Emiliano Zapata spoke Nahuatl fluently.
Birthplace of Emiliano Zapata in Anenecuilco, today a house museum A graphical timeline is available at Timeline of the Mexican Revolution
After Porfirio Díaz rose to power in 1876, the Mexican social and economic system was essentially a feudal system, with large estates (haciendas) controlling much of the land and squeezing out the independent communities of the people who were subsequently forced into debt slavery (peonaje) on the haciendas. Díaz ran local elections to pacify the people, and a government that could be argued was self-imposed. Under Díaz, close confidants and associates were given offices in districts throughout Mexico. These officials became enforcers of "land reforms" that drove the haciendas into the hands of progressively fewer and wealthier landowners.
In 1909 an important meeting was called by the elders of Anenecuilco, whose chief elder was José Merino in which he announced "my intention to resign from my position due to my old age and limited abilities to continue the fight for the land rights of the village", The meeting was used as a time for discussion and nomination of individuals as a replacement for Merino as the president of the village council. The elders on the council were so well respected by the village men that no one would dare to override their nominations or overtake the...
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