The daughter of Emiliano Zapata and Petra Portillo-Torres, Paulina Ana María Zapata Portillo (1915–2010) was born in Cuautla, Morelos.
As reported by Ana Zapata, her childhood was sad.
She was four years old when her father was murdered.
After his assassination, her family was persecuted and some members of the family took Ana with them and moved to Chietla, in Puebla (Taboada, 2010).
The social and symbolic capital that Ana Zapata learned to acquire since she was young strengthened her agency.
Montes-de-Oca-O’Reilly and Yurén (2010) have suggested that increasing symbolic and social capital aids in a person’s development of agency.
Emirbayer and Mische (1998:970) define agency as "the temporally constructed engagement by actors of different structural environments – the temporal-relational contexts of action – which, through the interplay of habit, imagination, and judgment, both reproduces and transforms those structures in interactive response to the problems posed by changing historical situations".
Yet, gender had a positive influence on Ana Zapata’s childhood and subsequent agency.
None of Emiliano Zapata’s children were as popular among the Mexican political class as Ana Zapata.
According to her daughters, the fact that Ana was born a girl brought her closer to her aunts and grandmother on her father’s side (Manrique-Zapata J., 2012; Manrique-Zapata, Martha).
As reported by the Manrique-Zapata siblings, Ana’s brother, Nicolás, did not experience such closeness.
(2012), Ana’s daughter, said that after Emiliano Zapata was murdered:
"Because my mother was a girl, my aunts used to take her along
with them everywhere and she really got along with my grandfather’s
sisters, María de Jesús and María de la Luz".