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by Joseph York
Antonio Díaz Soto y Gama was a very important figure in Mexico during the early to mid 1900's. Antonio Díaz Soto y Gama was born in San Luis Potosí on January 23, 1880, the son of Conrado Soto and Concepción Gama Cruz. Like many kids his own age, Díaz Soto y Gama began his schooling in a public school in San Luis Potosí. After his early schooling, Díaz Soto y Gama wanted to further his education. Like his father before him, Díaz Soto y Gama began studying law, and in 1900 Díaz Soto y Gama obtained his law degree from the Scientific and Literary Institute of San Luis Potosí. The life of Antonio Díaz Soto y Gama was a very exciting life. Throughout his career, Díaz Soto y Gama wrote many literary papers and articles, and he was involved in many of the political movements that swept through Mexico during his time.
One of the political movements Díaz Soto y Gama was involved in was the Partido Liberal Mexicano. The PLM began after Díaz Soto y Gama migrated to the United States with some of the most important Liberals from Mexico. Some of these Liberals included Juan Sarabia, Manuel Sarabia, and Arriaga. The PLM consisted of a small radical group who were devoted to the revolutionary cause. Summed up, the PLM demanded:
not only free speech, the enforcement of the Reform Laws and an end
to re-election, but also the suppression of the jefaturas, the abolition
of conscription, progressive tax reforms, improved education, protection
for the Indian, agrarian reform, and a range of labor legislation embodying
an eight-hour day, minimum wages, accident compensation and a ban on child labor.
Historically, Díaz Soto y Gama and the PLM were very important because they were the first "organized, national opposition."
Another time Antonio Díaz Díaz Soto y Gama played an important part in Mexican history was during the Mexican revolution. During this time, Díaz Soto y Gama became a very important figure in the Zapatista movement. To understand how Díaz Soto y Gama helped Zapata in the revolution, one must know a little information about Zapata himself. Emiliano Zapata was a "Mexican revolutionary, champion of agrarianism, and fought in guerilla actions during and after the Mexican Revolution." After was arrested in 1897 because he and other peasants from his village protested against a large hacienda that had taken the lands from them. A few years later in 1909 he was elected president to the defense board in his village. This is when Emiliano Zapata seemed to show the power that he could possess. After negotiations with the landowners failed, Zapata rallied a group of peasants in his village and they overthrew the landowners and gave the land back to the peasants. After Francisco Madero lost the elections in 1910 to Porfirio Díaz, Zapata decided to support Madero and in March of 1911 took over a small city and closed the road to the capital, which is Mexico City. Later on in that year, Madero was elected president, and Zapata tried meeting with him in order to make plans to return land that was taken from the peasants. After Zapata was rejected by Madero, Zapata arranged the Plan of Ayala. This plan basically stated that Madero was not capable of accomplishing the goals of the revolution.
After a presidential assassination and other types of political troubles, Zapata gained the attention of some "intellectuals" from Mexico City, and among them was Antonio Díaz Díaz Soto y Gama. With the help of these new individuals, Zapata formed an agrarian party. With Zapata, Díaz Soto y Gama was a "fiery orator" and one of the most vibrant persons who joined Zapata. In fact, it seems that Díaz Soto y Gama not only joined and followed Zapata, but he was also influenced Zapata. One expert writes
one influence on Zapta is certain—that of Antonio
Díaz Díaz Soto y Gama. Díaz Soto y Gama was a passionate disciple
of Tolstoy and Kropotkin and was an Anarcho-syndicalist
in Mexico City. He joined the Zapatistas with a few other
former members of the Casa.
It is also thought that
Díaz Soto y Gama quickly became the main ideologue of the
Zapatistas. Díaz Soto y Gama took the lead in elaborating
and refining ideas for the Zapatistas. The doctorine
of agrarismo and the cult of the agraristas that emerged
were chiefly his work.
Díaz Soto y Gama denied that he wrote any of the political "tracts" used by the Zapatistas. Díaz Soto y Gama has only admitted that he helped the true writers "polish the wording." Also, according to Díaz Soto y Gama the Zapatistas wanted "not socialization, not collectivization, but they wanted free land, free plot, free cultivation, free exploitation of the plot without foremen, without masters in the ejido, without individual tyrannies exercised by the state or by the collectivity."
During the Convention of Aguascalientes, Antonio Díaz Díaz Soto y Gama once again put himself in the history books. The purpose of the convention of Aguascalientes was to call many of the revolutionary leaders together so they could all "reach an agreement on the course to be followed by the Revolution." Díaz Soto y Gama wanted to "propogate Zapatismo" at Aguascalientes. The convention had a very lively atmosphere with many people shouting and an occasional gunshot could be heard. This is when Díaz Soto y Gama showed the true speech-making skills he had. Díaz Soto y Gama began his speech by listing some of history's greatest leaders: Buddha, Jesus Christ, St. Francis, Karl Marx, and he even put Emiliano Zapata's name in this honorable list. After this, Díaz Soto y Gama suddenly grabbed the Mexican flag. Díaz Soto y Gama wanted to show how an individual person's honor was by far more important than any symbol, but he was not able to get his true point across. During his speech, Díaz Soto y Gama said:
What's the good of this dyed rag, bedaubed wit hthe image
of a bird of prey? How is it possible, gentlemen of the
revolution, that for a hundred years we have been venerating
this silly mummery, this lie? We are making a great revolution
today to destroy the lies of history. And we are going to expose
the lie of history that is in this flag…
During this speech, it is also rumored that Díaz Soto y Gama spat on the flag. With his powerful speech and manner towards the Mexican flag, Díaz Soto y Gama caused a great uproar and disputes during the convention of Aguascalientes. It has even been said that during the commotion of Díaz Soto y Gama's speech, it seemed that "a fusillade of shots would at any moment riddle the arrogant young Zapatista on the stage."
In conclusion, Antonio Díaz Díaz Soto y Gama was a very important part of Mexico during his time. He was a writer, a speaker, and a very bright political figure. Other accomplishments in Díaz Soto y Gama's life were: professor of the history of the Mexican revolution, professor of Agrarian law, founding member of the Liberal Club Ponciano Arriaga, organizer of the first Liberal Congress of Mexico, vice president of the Mexican Democratic Party, Wrote for Renacimiento, and El Universal, and he was named Secretary of Justice, but he refused the position. After leading a very fulfilling life, Antonio Díaz Díaz Soto y Gama died in 1967.______________________
Knight, Alan (1986) The Mexican Revolution Volume 1 Cambridge University Press
Parkinson, Roger (1975) Zapata Stein and Day
Ankerson, Dudley (1984) Agrarian Warlord Northern Illinois University Press
Camp, Roderic Ai (1995) Mexican Political Biographies 1935-1993 University of Texas Press