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The Armed Libertarian Revolution in Mexico (Part 4)

April 8, 2017 in Blogs

By Zach Foster

Part 4: One of the finest libertarian moments of the Revolution

Revolutionary generals Zapata (center-left) and Villa (center-right) occupy Mexico City

One of the most libertarian moments of the Mexican Revolution came when Zapata and Villa occupied Mexico City. For the first time ever, the residents of the Federal District saw genuine people’s armies. Pancho Villa’s troops all wore distinct uniforms, had northern accents, and were known for partying and looting. The Zapatistas were a bona fide peasant army and shocked the nation with their self-discipline and good manners. They wore large straw hats, the clothing in which they worked the fields, sandals on their calloused feet, and carried whatever hunting rifles, muskets, or enemy weapons they could scrounge. The Zapatists were remarkably respectful of private property, noted for knocking on doors and asking if the residents could spare a tortilla or a cup of water.
During the brief occupation of Mexico City, Villa and Zapata sat in the Presidential Palace. Both revolutionary generals agreed that neither one of them should be President of Mexico. As Villa said, “This ranch is too big for us.” While Villa arguably craved some degree of power and prestige, he was happiest among his troops in the North and had no national political ambitions. Zapata had no desire whatsoever to rule over Mexico. Both generals and their armies left the capital and went home. George Washington is praised for setting the precedent of stepping down from the presidency, but Villa and Zapata literally had it under their seats and chose to walk away.
Scholars and veterans of the Mexican Revolution agree that the Revolution was hijacked and corrupted. Article 27 of the 1917 Constitution promised significant land reform to the peasants, but the Constitutionalist regime had no intention of expropriating the land from their wealthy backers. The national revolutionary labor union, the CROM, mirrored the large unions in the U.S. and transformed from a platform for improving wages and working conditions into a cattle pen for delivering workers to state-backed enterprises. The extreme anti-clerical measures against the Catholic Church went beyond justice against a politicized religious organization, and went so far as …read more