Zapata After Death in Song

Samuel Brunk’s book The Posthumous Career of Emiliano Zapata inspired me to further investigate Zapata’s affect on modern political music.  In the introduction Brunk interjects a personal favorite of mine, the band Rage Against the Machine into the discussion.  It reminded me of a Rage Against the Machine concert shirt I had, with Zapata on the front and a quote from him on the back that read, “Tierra, Justicia y Ley!.”

zapata shirt

Even though Emiliano Zapata was killed on April 10, 1919 his message still lives on through music.  A Google search of Emiliano Zapata songs listed about 182,000 results, which is amazing.  Almost a hundred years after his death, who would of thought his vision would be carried on by musicians from around the world?  Fortunately it has been carried on by musicians in an effort to inspire and resist brutality and decimation by horrible ruling regimes.  An aspect that cannot be overlooked is the types of music Zapata’s message is included.  You can here his message in funk, reggae, metal, rap, and rock.  Even more amazing is the home countries of the bands including Zapata into their lyrics.  As mentioned Rage Against the Machine is from the United States, Australian band Midnight Oil, Swedish band ABBA in their song “Fernando” and countless other artist from Spain, Mexico, France, Finland, Italy and Germany to name a few.  Why was the message of Zapata used in such a manner worldwide?  For many Zapata promotes a message of action against oppressors, he is the David to the ruling powers Goliath.  He is a man of the people, not an overlord of the people and land.  His relation to the individual is understood in the his fight for freedom and land preservation for those in peril.  Zapata’s message is universal, you do not have to be Mexican to understand it and with so many musicians around the world utilizing what he personified it shows it can be applied all around the globe.




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