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Mateo Zapata D.E.P. (21 de septiembre de 1917 – 10 de enero de 2007)

15 January 2007

Mateo Emiliano Zapata Peréz, though only 18 months old when his father was assasinated in April 1919, was a fierce defender of the Caudillo de la Sur’s memory and ideals throughout his life. 

Born 21 September 1917, Emiliano Zapata’s youngest son died last week in Cuatla, and was buried in the family plot on Friday.  The funeral was attended by his sister, Ana, and older brother, Diego, who were estranged from Mateo over the last several years.

Together with his late brother Nicolas, Mateo was a cofounder of Movimiento Plan de Ayala Instituto, which works to further the agrarian policies and ideas of the original Zapatistas.  Besides the usual small town service clubs — the Lions and the Rotary — Mateo was active in the “Instituto Pro Veteranos Revolucionarios e hijos de la Revolución del Sur” though Mauricio Ramirez Cerón, who died at 100 in February 2005 was probably the last veteran to have met the Caudillo.

In 2003, his sister Ana and brother Diego supported film producer Alfonso Arau’s attempts to make a film about their father, Zapata, el Sueño del Héroe. Mateo not only objected to casting Alejandro Fernandez as Emiliano Zapata, he was incensed by rumors that the film would portray a gay Zapata.

It’s a historical fact that Emiliano — who was slim, handsome, polite and a snappy dresser (not that there’s anything wrong with that) — was a close friend of Porfirio Diaz’ gay nephew, Ignacio de la Torre.  However, de la Torre bred horses at his Morelos hacienda, and Zapata was a Morelos horse trainer. 

Mateo, went to court.  When that didn’t work, he demanded that the alleged offending scenes be cut. Not exactly a subtle film editor, Mateo and his compadres from the “Instituto Pro veteranos y hijos…” who were all in their 80s — tried to storm the production armed with machetes.  His sister Ana (who was hired as a technical consultant) Ana suggested that Mateo was misled by crooked lawyers or… that he was nuts.  

There was no suggestion of a gay relationship, but maybe Mateo should have shut the production down.  Zapata, el Sueño del Héroe is mostly memorable for being a really bad movie.  Mexicans thought it was pretentious and self-indulgent — and trying to create some kind of “stream of consciousness” narriative flow (mixed in with some borrowings from Carlos Casteñada) just confused the hell out of everyone.  It didn’t help any when the female co-star, Lucero, pissed off the entire Mexican entertainment media, when she got into a snit at a press conference and her bodyguard pulled out a gun and threatened to blow away the offending reporters.  Any chance of a good review — or even a sympathetic one — was remote at best. 

All very amusing — and sad, considering the Zapata children never met again.  But Mateo, the child who never knew his father — through his work with the Instituto and with the Agrarian groups — was the Zapata most active in keeping Zapatismo alive into the 21st century. 

11 Comments leave one →
  1. 15 January 2007 6:03 pm

    Not exactly a subtle film editor, Mateo and his compadres from the “Instituto Pro veteranos y hijos…” who were all in their 80s — tried to storm the production armed with machetes.


  2. 15 January 2007 6:32 pm

    I was hunting around for the Jornada photo (I think it was in Jornada)… he was one tough old cabron, and I think I would’ve liked him … at least if I stayed out of machete range 🙂

    So.. are you a left-coaster now?

  3. Bill Kinsland permalink
    3 August 2007 11:46 am

    Does anyone have an accurate family tree of
    Emiliano Zapata and his descedants? Does anyone know of a Munoz-Zapata family connection?


  4. Masymijima permalink
    13 January 2008 12:58 pm

    I have would like to get in touch with Ana or Diego Zapata. I am a descendent of Emiliano Zapata and would like to learn more of our family history. How do I contact them? My family and a museum has memorabilia and photos of Emiliano and my Great grandmother together.
    Thank you for any help

  5. Farsante permalink
    16 January 2008 12:49 am

    Mateo was the good friend of a very good friend of mine in Cuautla , Morelos, Mexico. Mateo’s father was assassinated, and so was my friend’s son, Jose Ramon Garcia Gomez, in somewhat the same kind of cause.

    Masymijima, you should read ZAPATA AND
    I heard that Mateo approved of the book.
    The movie sounds pathetic, and I am glad that Mateo went in there with machete flashing! I fancy his father would have been proud of him.

    I believe that Emiliano was not “gay”. It seems to me he preferred women, but he had a great reputation with horses and I fancy that was why he associated with de la Torre.

    Zapata was a true hero and no wonder many claim to be descended from him.

  6. Henry Guzman Villalobos (Aztec-Yaqui Native American Indian) permalink
    14 September 2010 9:27 pm

    Will you please let me know about the Afro-Mexican roots of Emiliano Zapata.

    Thank you,

    Henry Guzman Villalobos (Aztec-Yaqui Native American Indian)
    Native Americans of the Americas Committee

  7. 12 January 2012 4:01 am

    We Aztec Native Americans need to rewrite our history!

    Thank you for your time.

    Henry Guzman Villalobos(Aztec-Yaqui Native American)

  8. Jamie Beltran permalink
    31 August 2012 12:24 pm

    Hi my name is Jamie Beltran, I was born in the state if michigan, father, Jamie Beltran and mother Jenny Ortiz Beltran.
    I found out two weeks ago that I am the Great Emiliano Zapata’s, great, great, great grand son, by way of my great gand mother Anita Garcia Beltran, E ver since, I have been searching for someone that would know the family tree, greatly appreciate it, I am very excited to know that I may have strong mexican roots and to know such great piece of history lays within my blood roots, if you have any info that would help me.

  9. 28 April 2013 2:29 am

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this write-up and also the rest of the site is also
    really good.


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