Historical rupture: political rivalry between Zapata and Madero

The ideological differences between Francisco I. Madero and Emiliano Zapata arose in 1911 and determined the course of the Mexican Revolution.

Historical rupture: political rivalry between Zapata and Madero
Madero and Zapata, a difficult relationship: Ideological differences that determined the course of the Mexican Revolution. Photo: INAH

The fractious political relationship that arose in 1911 between Francisco I. Madero and Emiliano Zapata, whose breaking points determined the development of the Mexican revolutionary movement and, at the same time, affected the course of the rest of the 20th century in Mexico.

A hundred years after this political rivalry that determined the development of the Mexican Revolution, the ideological bifurcation that revolved around political principles and projects for the progress of Mexico, resulted in the creation of several laws and agrarian reforms.

They resulted in the change of political discourse to an inclusive and more egalitarian vocabulary, the testing of different forms of government that modified the political and social structure in the country, in addition to providing the revolutionary movement with the social and political essence it needed.

The differences of thought between these two historical figures occurred from March 1911 until November of that same year, and caused the definitive rupture between them.

The two key moments that caused this rupture

The first, when Madero imposed Ambrosio Figueroa as governor of Guerrero and head of the revolutionary movement in Morelos, a situation that the Zapatistas rejected since they controlled the territories.

The second refers to Madero's inauguration as president of Mexico in November 1911, during which he demanded the surrender and loyalty of the armed revolutionary groups to his government. Zapata, not agreeing to give up arms or the process of solving land disputes, broke off all relations with him and proclaimed the Plan of Ayala, on November 28th of the same year.

This plan gives rise to the social essence of the Revolution, with an inclusive political vocabulary in favor of the poor, the middle classes, peasants and workers, and with it the armed movement transcends beyond political transformation and the establishment of elections.

At the same time, it offered a radical change in land ownership, by promoting the use of haciendas as a State policy and then promoting their gradual disappearance, when they had existed since the end of the 16th century; it also proposed the restitution and endowment of land, that is, the return of land to those who had been taken away from them and its distribution among those who had never owned it.

The Plan of Ayala was the origin of the subsequent creation of several agrarian laws in favor of the peasants, among them, the Agrarian Law of 1915, issued by Venustiano Carranza; the Law of Ejidos of 1920, promoted by Álvaro Obregón; up to the agrarian reforms to Article 27 of the Constitution, made in 1934 and 1947 by Lázaro Cárdenas and Miguel Alemán, respectively.

Some examples of the first distribution of large estates were those carried out in 1911 in the hacienda Los Borregos, in Tamaulipas, with the revolutionary Lucio Blanco, and the first restitution of lands, in 1912, by the Zapatistas in Ixcamilpa, Guerrero. It was in Guerrero where the first disagreement between Zapata and Madero took place, when the latter wanted to impose the pro-Madero Ambrosio Figueroa as governor of the state and head of the revolutionary movement in Morelos.

Besides, the state of Guerrero was projected as one of the most important Zapatista platforms since 1911 with the signing of the Plan de Ayala and, later, with the Seizure of Chilpancingo in 1914, which meant the triumph of the Revolution in the south of the country.

The problem between both characters had its origin in the cohesion of several struggle groups through the Plan of San Luis Potosí (October 5, 1910) -which each of them read from different perspectives-, it was a call to disown the 1910 elections; the authorities emanating from them, among them President Porfirio Díaz, and to initiate the resolution of old problems of an agrarian nature in the country.

This last point was what attracted the Zapatistas, who were interested in the restitution and endowment of lands that were taken from the peasants during the Porfiriato and handed over to the landowners. However, the solution projects of Madero and Zapata were different. Madero's political ideals revolved around a change of government authorities, federal and state, but not of political structures. He also advocated the construction of a better country based on democratic processes such as non-reelection and freedom of expression and discussion of ideas.

In the agrarian realm, Madero was in favor of a more profound vigilance of the legal processes in the courts during land disputes, in order to determine which lands would be given to the peasants and which would not. On the contrary, for Emiliano Zapata the solution was to rule in favor of the humble people without considering the legal processes, since land was a vital necessity for the peasants, for whom not having it meant days of hunger and poverty because they could not sow and harvest products for self-consumption and sale.