In 1511, Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, following the orders of Columbus’ son Diego, took a group of 300 men to the island of Cuba, or Caobana as it was called, looking for gold. He conquered and governed Cuba on behalf of the Spanish Crown and moved Havana from Santiago de Cuba on the south-eastern coast to the north coast. Soon Many settlers seeking new beginnings followed his example and although not much gold was discovered on the island, land was available for the taking and the soil was fertile. As the settlers arrived, the Spaniards continued to be overbearing and cruel in their relationship with the Indians, causing the become hostile between them.
Chief Hatuey was the Cacique or Chief of 400 Taíno Indians that had fled from the Spaniards in Hispaniola for Cuba. Hatuey resented the ruthless Spaniards and encouraged the Arawakan-speaking people to rise up against them. Seeing the malice of these new intruders, they had no other option but to engage them in guerrilla warfare. Hatuey rallied the local Taínos, telling them that the Spaniards were merciless and that their god was gold. A number of the local Indians actually joined him in the fight. When the Chief was ultimately captured, the Spaniards tortured him, and when he refused to tell them the location of the gold, they burnt him at the stake. A bust on top of a monument honoring Chief Hatuey is located in the town of Baracoa, Cuba. It reads “Primer Rebelde De America Immolado En Yara De Baracoa”, “First rebel of America, Sacrificed in the town of Yara in Baracoa.” He is considered by many to be the first hero of Cuba. His last words were that he did not want to go to Heaven, if that is where Christians go when they die.
Visit my “Captain Hank Bracker” Facebook page….Photo Caption: Monument honoring Chief Hatuey.
Captain Hank Bracker, is the multi award winning author of “The Exciting Story of Cuba,” which is at the White House, U.S. Embassy in Havana and all the U.S. Service and Maritime Academies. Capt. Hank’s books are available at Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, BooksAMillion.com and most Independent Book Stores.