Sunday, September 14, 2014

About this blog and Hatuey

Hatuey was a cacique, a leader of the Taínos in the island the Spanish called "Hispaniola" around the time when that clueless adventurer Christopher Columbus stumbled onto Caribbean lands imagining he was all the way to India. But Columbus and those that followed were more interested in raping and looting these lands than in geographic precision.

There were others who resisted, but Hatuey is the one that history remembers. He fled to Cuba, where he warned his tribesmen against the depravity of the invaders. "Here is the God the Spaniards worship," he told them, holding up a basket of gold and jewels. "For these they fight and kill; for these they persecute us and that is why we have to throw them into the sea....

"They tell us, these tyrants, that they adore a God of peace and equality, and yet they usurp our land and make us their slaves. They speak to us of an immortal soul and of their eternal rewards and punishments, and yet they rob our belongings, seduce our women, violate our daughters. Incapable of matching us in valor, these cowards cover themselves with iron that our weapons cannot break."

Hatuey was captured and burned at the stake in Yara on February 2, 1512. His attitude on that day, described by Spanish Friar Bartolomé de las Casas, is why he is remembered as "The First Rebel of the Americas" and the first Cuban.

It is said that Hatuey's ashes led to the character of the Cuban people. Cuba's national day is not independence day, or revolution day, or constitution day but is called, "Día de la Rebeldía Nacional," the Day of National Rebelliousness.

This is the blog of a rebel, someone born on that island that, having spent a lifetime away from it, has not succeeded in purging Hatuey's ashes from his soul.

No comments:

Post a Comment