As legend goes, Emiliano Zapata's birth was prophesied by the local witch doctor after his father's blood was spilled by a sword protecting a foreign landowner. A birthmark in the shape of a hand was said to mark him as the savior of his indigenous people. Zapata's community was facing a tough situation: newly landed Spaniards had been seizing agricultural land from the campesinos (peasant farmers) and essentially offering them little choice but to work as slave laborers.
Although Zapata was tricked and executed by a sly enemy, his spirit has become a figure of the Mexican identity. Yet, 100 years later, an ongoing struggle for control of this same territory (now for drug production) continues to punish those carrying his blood.
Three years ago, the village of Cherán, Michoacán, saw its citizens band together to fight organized crime in their town. I arrived in the middle of the annual fiesta, the first since the town revolted - the pride of their collective accomplishments was infectious.
Zapata is also said to have been the best horseman in Mexico. Many believe that he rides his white horse through the mountains of the south, coming to the aid of the indigenous peasants whenever he is needed.
This work explores the social environments of these Mexican mountains where the government is not able to guarantee the safety of its citizens. I am looking for the ghost Zapata, and photographing those who he lives within.