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cuba history .org - History of Cuban Nation

Rebellion of Hatuey

The situation for the conquerors became very difficult in Baracoa. They hoped to find a docile and peaceful population, but soon they had to face the attack of their inhabitants.

In 1511, Diego Velázquez set out from Hispaniola to conquer the island of Caobana (Cuba). He was preceded, however, by Hatuey, who fled Hispaniola with a party of four hundred in canoes and warned the inhabitants of Caobana about what to expect from the Spaniards.

The people of Caobana (Cuba) could not believe Hatuey's message, and few joined him to fight. Hatuey resorted to guerrilla tactics against the Spaniards, and was able to confine them to their fort at Baracoa.

Hatuey was able to gather about 300 armed men with macanas, stone axes and wooden lances, to confront the conquerors.

The Spaniards had firearms, lances and swords of steel. They were protected by shields, helmets and meshes of metal, and they counted, also, with the horse and the tracker dog.

This cacique knew the enemy's superiority that should face, hence he put in practice the tactics used by the Indians in The Spaniard, that is to say, to attack the Spaniards for surprise and to disappear quickly. Lacking in experience in military actions, these attacks were made with great shouting, alerting the Spaniards who responded with the fire of their weapons and they caused them great number of low.

Hatuey burned alive by the Spaniards

Diego Velázquez, for the experience that had acquired in The Spaniard, knew that when the Indians lost their cacique, they were disorganized and they escaped, for that reason he concentrated all his effort on capturing Hatuey.

Eventually the Spaniards succeeded in capturing him. Velázquez wanted to let a warning to the aborigines. On February 2, 1512, he was tied to a stake and burned alive at Yara.

The rebellion of Hatuey constitutes the first manifestation of fight of the aboriginal struggle of Cuba against the exploitation and for the men's rights to be free.