A statue of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata soon will have a new home in a plaza on East Lake Street.
Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune
Zapata statue to find new plaza home in Minneapolis
- Article by: PATRICK DUNPHY
- Special to the Star Tribune
- May 27, 2012 - 11:52 PM
Once considered too warlike for a public park, a donated statue of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata may have finally found a permanent home in Minneapolis.
On Friday, the Minneapolis City Council approved placing the statue in a new plaza on East Lake Street at 12th Avenue South. The "Plaza Centenario" would resemble a traditional village plaza and prominently feature the statue, which has stood in an obscure location in a private market for the past five years.
This time, the council's decision hasn't resulted in the same outcry that prevented Zapata from standing guard in Powderhorn Park.
Emiliano Zapata led an army of peasants against the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz during the 1910 Mexican Revolution. He was particularly involved with agrarian land reform. Zapata was assassinated in 1919 at the age of 39.
In 2007, the Mexican state of Morelos donated a bronze likeness of Zapata, a native son, to the city. South Minneapolis has the highest population of immigrants from Morelos in the United States and is a sister city to Cuernavaca, a city in Morelos.
"People from Morelos really love Zapata," says Ana Luisa Fajer, Consul General at Mexico's consulate in St. Paul. She insists that Zapata be more prominently displayed in a neighborhood where he is a "real hero."
But when city leaders attempted to place Zapata at the northeast corner of Powderhorn Park, some members of the community objected to artist German Michel Leal's depiction, in which the revolutionary carries a rifle and wears ammunition belts and a holstered pistol.
So Zapata instead went into the custody of Club Morelos, a fraternal organization of former residents of Morelos. The organization originally placed Zapata at the front door of La Alborada Market at 1855 E. Lake St., then moved him inside the entryway. The statue is now located in the second floor balcony of the market, away from the activity of the bustling ground floor and out of view of most market patrons.
For over a year, a committee of community members and officials, including Fajer, worked to find a more visible home for the statue.
The Public Arts Advisory Panel estimates that the project will cost $40,000, money it already has allocated from this year's budget. In addition to the statue, the city could add benches and additional gardens to the park if the local community raises additional funds.
Tina Tavera, a member of the Plaza Centenario Committee, says that the statue could be an educational opportunity for students at the nearby El Colegio Charter School, who would learn about Mexican history and hear the story of a revolutionary who fought for equality.
Patrick Dunphy is a student journalist on assignment for the Star Tribune.
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