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Jon Guido Bertelli — Zapatistas


With a love for Mexico and it’s history I spent the greater part of the two years that I lived in Mexico, during the mid-late 1990s, in search of the last surviving Zapatista veterans from the Agrarian Revolution of 1910-20.

They were the courageous fighters, who under the leadership of Emiliano Zapata fought fearlessly against injustice under the common battle cry of “Tierra y Libertad”.

My search was focused in the state of Morelos, where the Revolution of the South started; Pancho Villa (Doroteo Arango) was the leader of the Revolution of the North.
While the “kid” of those photographed was 99 years of age, the oldest was 108, all of them survivors from the last century. People who left their belongings behind and finding refuge in the surrounding hills, fighting a guerilla warfare dedicated to bettering the plight of the common man.

Their hardened character for survival was forged through years of battles, bloodshed and hardships.
Always friendly, they would welcome me into their homes; tell me about their experiences and life during those distant years.
They talked with such passion about a past so close to their hearts, as if it were a part of their present. When I learned more about these intrepid people made frail and minute with the passing of the years, they reached dimensions of giants in my mind.
Many of the veterans whom I met, had been awarded for their bravery during the revolution with the medals of Merito Periodo Revolucionario and a few also with that of Legion de Honor.

More than ten years have passed since I last saw my “Old friends”, they have left us to join their companions in arms. I miss their quick wits and their positive outlook on life, their strength and their noble ideals, which still echo through the hills of Morelos and across Mexico.

I’m grateful to Zapata’s family members and the families of the Zapatistas who assisted me greatly with the project, without them none of this would have been possible.

Jon Guido Bertelli

Jon Guido Bertelli, from Florence, Italy was academically trained in the arts there and in Oslo, Norway.
Started as an Art Director but later followed his love for photography.
He has been a mentor to photography students at Ryerson University and art colleges in Toronto, Canada and a guest speaker at Marylhurst University in Portland, Oregon – U.S.A.

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