Emiliano who was born 8 August 1879 was the ninth of ten children but only four or five survived into adulthood. His brother, Eufemio, was some 15 years older than him and often had the role of looking out for him. By 1897 Zapata’s parents had both died recently in quick succession, and brother Eufemio came to his rescue when Emiliano was arrested that year.

As the people of Anenecuilco put it, “’Miliano was a brave man who would not take any crap. As a result, already during the time of peace, he was often in trouble.” For his part, Eufemio was a much experienced opponent of the local authorities even by 1897, when Emiliano was arrested for some still unknown form of trouble making. As his brother, bound, was being lead away by the authorities, Eufemio appeared with pistol drawn and demanded that his brother be released. The arresting officers complied and the two brothers fled to the neighboring State of Puebla for a spell until things cooled down.
Much later, over a year into the Revolution, Emiliano Zapata recruited his brother Eufemio into his movement as one of his chief generals. Around the time of the issuance of the Plan de Ayala, at the end of 1911, Eufemio joined with Emiliano. This was the time that the revolution of the South began to be known as the Zapatista revolution. Eufemio Zapata had the reputation of being a macho man, both admired and feared locally. He was an extraordinary recruiter of followers to the cause. Eufemio was one of the main leaders of the Revolution of the South and a founding member of the “Revolutionary Junta of the South and Center of the Republic” that was established on 2 June 1913. Eufemio Zapata and the troops under his command were among the first to occupy Mexico City and to be headquartered in the Palacio Nacional, and he was a prominent figure at the subsequent famous first meeting between his brother Emiliano and Francisco “Pancho” Villa in Xochimilco.
Eufemio Zapata was also a hard drinker from way before the revolution. By 1915, with Zapatismo already in decline, he had become a habitual drunk. On 18 June 1915 for little cause, he beat and insulted the father of one of his fellow Zapatista commanders, Sidronio “Loco” Camacho. The son came immediately for revenge and shot Eufemio down in the streets of Cuautla. “Loco” Camacho threw Eufemio, still alive, on an anthill outside of town and later that day Eufemio died. This was both an emotional blow for Emiliano and one to his prestige in a movement where family ties were highly important. To make matters worse, Sidronio “Loco” Camacho immediately fled to the Carrancistas.