Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Hatuey


Despite basking in the Spanish summer sun I cannot help nor refrain myself from delving back into the pages of history and gaining an insight into a a time that plays a prominent role in my future novel; Captive.

In doing so I came across a very interesting character by the name of Hatuey. This native Taino Cacique, which means chief to you or I was from the Island of Hispaniola and was the only one brave enough to stand against the invading Europeans and single handedly led a rebellion against the Spanish Conquistadors.

After the Spaniards successful occupation of Hispaniola due mainly to the Taino peoples tolerance towards the Spanish on first arrival allowing them to slowly infiltrate the island, the Spanish decided to move on to the island of Cuba. 

Hatuey who during that time had developed a hatred for the Spanish who had so cruelly taken control of his homeland, preceded them by way of canoe with a small contingent of loyal warriors to warn the Cubans of the inevitable invasion that was to follow.

Yet despite his efforts the Cubans did not heed his warning nor succumb to his pleas and only a handful of them stood with him to fight. His only choice was to resort to guerrilla tactics and this he executed to superb effect. He was able to contain the Spanish to their fort on the coast at the town of Baracoa.

His time spent at war with the Spaniards although not enough to convince others to join him did at least fill the native population with a sense of guilt. He alone stood and achieved so much and with their help maybe just maybe they may have overcome them. However he was finally caught by the Spanish who wasted little time in tying him to a stake and burning him alive. 

And even then he defied them. In a final offer a priest asked Hatuey if he would accept Jesus and earn himself a place in Heaven. Upon being asked this question he himself replied with a question; "Is heaven the place where Spaniards go when they die?" he asked. "Of course", the priest answered, "Then I would sooner go to Hell!" Hatuey replied.

Despite his death his defiance would make him a martyr and stand as a long serving reminder to all peoples of the Americas yet unconquered to not bow down to their so called European masters and he remains to this day; Hatuey the first defier of colonialism in the new world and the first national hero of Cuba.