Hatuey: more than just a beer.

Author:Alvarez Peraza, Chico
Position:Music group



Hatuey was the prototype for the many heroic-martyrs that would fill the pages of Cuba's history books for centuries, following Columbus' arrival in the Americas. His original domain, as a tribal Amerindian sub-chieftain, was the region known as Guahaba, part of the province of Jaragua---on the neighboring island that was known among the natives ruled by the great chief (cacique) Behechio, as Quisqueya--before it was renamed "La Española" (Hispaniola) by the Spanish conquerors.

Hatuey had already successfully defended his land and his people from countless attacks by the ferocious Caribs, and he understood all too well the intentions of the European conquerors. He vowed never to allow his people to be enslaved, and they violently resisted the Spanish forces led by Captain Rodrigo Mexía de Trillo. The Spaniards' superiority in numbers and arms was overwhelming, and those who survived joined Hatuey in his retreat in to the bush. After some months Hatuey decided to lead his people in a migration to the island of Cubanacán (Cuba), where there were no Spanish settlements yet.

The cacique Bonao Baracoa received Hatuey in Cubanacán asa brother, and granted him an area of coastal land, which he called Guahaba, in memory of his former domain, but it wasn't long before the conquerors arrived in the island of Cuba. Led by Diego Velázquez, they disembarked at the island's easternmost tip of Maisí, in Oriente Province. Hatuey was there to meet them, and the first confrontation was disastrous for the native islanders. Once again they retreated into the bush, and thus began the first documented example of what today is known as guerilla warfare. These guerrilla tactics frustrated and infuriated the conquerors, and they lived in a constant nervous condition, never knowing from where or when the attack would come.

Eventually they were able to infiltrate someone into Hatuey's ranks. The infiltrator was a fellow native Indian whose love proposals were scorned by the same woman who lived with Hatuey. The betrayal was set into motion, and shortly thereafter, Velázquez moved in for the kill. After a fierce battle, Hatuey was captured, tortured and then burned to death at the stake. While awaiting his late, a Franciscan priest, Juan de Tesín, talked to Hatuey about God and Christianity. He informed Hatuey, after a long lecture about Catholic doctrine, that if he believed in the things he had told him, he would go to heaven...

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