Land, Liberty, and Water
Morelos After Zapata, 1920–1940
Salvador Salinas takes readers inside the diverse pueblos of the former Zapatistas during the 1920s and 1930s and recounts the first statewide land reform carried out in postrevolutionary Mexico. Based on extensive archival research, he reveals how an alliance with the national government that began in 1920 stimulated the revival of rural communities after ten years of warfare and helped once-landless villagers reclaim Morelos’s valley soils, forested mountains, and abundant irrigation waters.
During the presidency of Plutarco Elías Calles (1924–1928), pueblos forged closer ties to the centralized government in Mexico City through a plethora of new national institutions, such as ejidos, forestry cooperatives, water juntas, credit societies, and primary schools. At the same time, the expansion of charcoal production in the Sierra de Ajusco and rice cultivation in the lowland valleys accelerated deforestation and intensified water conflicts.
Salinas recounts how the federal reforms embraced by the countryside aided the revival of the pueblos, and in return, villagers repeatedly came to the defense of an embattled national regime. Salinas gives readers interested in modern Mexico, the Zapatista revolution, and environmental history a deeply researched analysis of the outcomes of the nation’s most famous revolutionary insurgency.
“Taking into account the environmental components of Zapatismo, this book demonstrates both that the Morelos peasantry cared as much about water as they did about land and that their actions had ecological consequences. Thus Salinas has made sure Zapata’s movement will never be the same.”—Myrna I. Santiago, author of The Ecology of Oil: Environment, Labor, and the Mexican Revolution, 1900–1938