From LOP6675@aol.com Tue Oct 12 07:40:57 1999
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 1999 19:36:06 EDT
Subject: Re: To Whom were the first Bulls directed against?
The Story of Cacique Hatuey, Cuba's First National Hero
By Tony Castanha email@example.com
11 October 1999
It's no coincidence that the act of burning is being replicated today
as was a Spanish custom of the not so distant past. The children of
the "Taino" or CARIB whom those bulls were first directed against are
now unraveling the many myths passed down through the centuries about
their ancestors. The story below was printed in "La Voz del Pueblo Taino
(The Voice of the Taino People), Offical Newsletter of the United
Confederation of Taino People, U.S. Regional Chapter, January 1998.
THE STORY OF CACIQUE HATUEY,
CUBA'S FIRST NATIONAL HERO
In the 16th century, Hatuey was a powerful Taino Cacique or chieftain,
who has since been considered by many as Cuba's first national hero
although he was originally from the island of Quisqueya (Domincian
As a witness to the atrocities by the Spanish Conquistadors against
his people and other Taino communities throughout the island, Cacique
Hatuey and his remaining followers fled to Cuba to escape persecution
and a death sentence imposed on them by the Spanish Crown. After some
success assisting in the Taino resistance in Cuba, Cacique Hatuey was
finally captured and sentenced to death. His execution sentence: being
burnt alive at the stake.
A Spanish friar who was present on the day of Cacique Hatuey's execution
attempted to convert him to Christianity while he was bound and Spanish
soldiers with lit torches approached. The friar explained to the chief-
tain about conversion, baptism and the Catholic concept of heaven and
hell. He offered to baptize Cacique Hatuey, explaining that this action
would cleanse him of all his sins against the Christian God.
The chieftain is said to have requested some time to think about this
offer and after a few moments he gave his legendary response. Cacique
Hatuey first asked the friar, "After being baptized, where does one go
to after death?" To this the friar responded "To Heaven." The chieftain,
continuing his inquiry questioned "And the Spanish, where do they go?"
The friar replied "If they are baptized, of course they will go to heaven
like all good Christians. To this the chieftain bravely responded "If the
Spaniards go to heaven, then I certainly do not want to go there, so do
not baptize me, I would prefer to go to hell!"
This story of Cacique Hatuey's execution was originally recorded by
Father Bartolome de Las Casas and is still part of the oral tradition of
the eastern provinces in Cuba. There is a continuing tradition of pilgrim-
age to the site of this horrific deed, a place called Yara which is close
to the city of Bayamo. This tradition speaks of the "light of Yara" that
appears to visitors and the power of physical vigor associated with this
belief. Not so coincidentally, a major Cuban rebellion against the Spanish,
called the "Cry of Yara," began in the very same area near the city of
Bayamo in 1868.