Viva Hatuey!

On this day in 1512, the Spanish killed Hatuey, the Taíno chief.

He led an armed insurrection in Hispaniola for about 10 years, and then in 1511 he and 400 resistance fighters landed in Cuba, hoping to raise an armed insurrection against the Spanish.

The Dominican priest Bartolomé de Las Casas documented Hatuey’s motivation: “The intruders worship gold, fight and kill, usurp our land and makes us slaves. For gold, slaves, and land they fight and kill; for these they persecute us and that is why we have to throw them into the sea.”

Hatuey’s forces had little chance to get organized, when Spanish troops led by Diego Velásquez landed in Cuba. As well-organized and well armed as they were, Hatuey’s men managed to keep them contained in their fort at Baracoa for three months. After a season of containment, the Spanish broke out and captured Hatuey.

On Feb. 2, 1512, Hatuey was burned at the stake at Yara.

Before being put to death, a priest asked Hatuey if he would accept Jesus and go to heaven, informing him that if he accepted, he would be saved and enter the kingdom of heaven. Of course, if he declined, he would suffer eternal damnation and torment in a sea of fire.

Hatuey asked the priest if all Christians went to heaven. The priest assured him that they did.

Hatuey then contemplated the Christians he saw before him, and had encountered to date. Hatuey decided that if he would find Christians in heaven, that he preferred to go to hell.

8 Responses to Viva Hatuey!

  1. Aj says:

    And for this, we created a beer in his honor.

  2. CPlatt says:

    Wondering, Marc, if you were married at a ceremony where a Christian person officiated. I was. He broke the solemn promises he had made to us regarding the content of the service, and of course showed no concern at all, because God told him it was okay. We ended up with a wedding very different from what we had wanted, and it was too late to do anything about it.

    After some thought, a couple of weeks later I wrote a piece of fake text in which I seemed to be interviewed by a journalist. During the “interview” I described our pastor in the most derogatory terms. I printed the page to make it look as if it was a page proof from a magazine, and I sent it to the pastor, as if from an editorial assistant at the magazine (at a fake address), asking for “fact checking.” I suppose this might have constituted harassment, but I didn’t see how it could be libel, since the text had never been and would never be published. The pastor would only *imagine* that it was *going to be* published. And in any case, everything I said was true.

    I received a wonderfully enraged response, full of wild threats and invective. At that point, I let the matter rest. For weeks afterward I imagined the pastor trying to find the magazine with the interview in it, never knowing where it might pop up.

    Truth hurts!

  3. Rogier says:

    That comes remarkably close to showing some humanity and empathy for America’s indigenous people. Not at all like the gentleman whose name escapes me now who wrote that assholish little essay about the virtues of the celebrated Christopher Columbus, and who addressed current American Indians thusly:

    “To the ‘Native Americans’ who have a beef with Columbus Day — suck it. … You were here first? I give a fuck? There was a war. You lost. That’s how it works. … Sorry you crybaby fucks.”

    Unpleasant, huh? He then spared some warm words for the other, perhaps more famous conquerors from the Mediterranean:

    “I don’t know why we’re all down on the Conquistadors anyhow. Leonidas killed 20,000 ill-equipped, poorly trained, forced-to-fight losers and we call him a hero for the ages. A couple hundred Spaniards kick the crap out of an entire empire of human sacrificing, child-raping, savage nutbags who make Jerry Falwell look sane, and we think it was an awful sin?”

    I wonder what Hatuey would say to THAT guy, whose name I still can’t seem to remember. Palazza? Mandazza? Something like that. Oh wait, I found it! http://randazza.wordpress.com/?s=columbus

    • Ancel De Lambert says:

      Yes, you’re a paragon of virtue and a true freedom fighter. However could we evolve as a species without your illustrious help in calling to light one internet twerps blog-posts? Randazza’s overwhelming control of our very lives needed to be called into question, and his rank hypocrisy exposed. Thank you!

      • D506 says:

        Yes, you’re a paragon of virtue and a true freedom fighter. However could we evolve as a species without your illustrious help in calling to light one internet twerps blog-comments? Rogier’s overwhelming control of our very lives needed to be called into question, and his rank hypocrisy exposed. Thank you!

        Funny how that works, isn’t it?

  4. Viva Hatuey for sure, although as a hard core skeptic I am bound to believe that there is some fiction weaved into the story.

    David L. Nelson

  5. Trivial, I know, but there are some very much appreciated “memes” (as people call images with big white text on them these days) going around the place with pictures of all the usual suspects – Einstein, Hooke, Hume, Bruno, Asimov, Heinlein, Sagan, etc – with the clear implication that “Hell”, for all the “horrors” supposed, would be a far more interesting place to be.

    Interesting too, from an anti-christianist perspective, that many christianists haven’t actually read – or, at least, understood – the ground rules for heaven. If they read Revelations, as one example in point, the god described there would put them firmly on the stake with the “terrorist” Hatuey…

    Thanks for the historical windfall. I love learning about these guys, never a cut diamond among them.

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