Caribbean Islands, 1511: Hatuey


Cacique Hatuey sees it is useless to fight directly against the Spaniards with their criminal ways.  And so he, like thousands of others who will follow him in the centuries to come, flees into the brambles.  He knows if they capture him he will be killed.  The Spainards always kill the leaders because once they are dead, it is easy to subdue the rest.  With a small band, Hatuey flees by canoe to Cuba (one reason why he is claimed today as a Cuban national hero).

The Spainards search for him for days.  Every native captured alive they torture for information about Hatuey.  No one speaks.  Finally after three months they find him.

When they are ready to burn him at the stake, a Franciscan friar urges him to die a Christian and be baptized.

Hatuey asks, Why should I be like a Christian? They are bad people who only worship to the God of gold.

The priest responds, Because those who die Christians go to heaven where they eternally see God and rest.

Do Christians go to heaven? asks Hatuey.


Then I do not wish to go there. Hatuey says definatly.

The torch touches the wood. He burns alive.


-Eric Williams, ed., Documents of West Indian History, 1:92-93; Also see Eduardo Galeano, Memories of Fire: Genesis, 57.

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