Mon | Jan 22, 2018


Published:Sunday | May 1, 2016 | 12:00 AMPaul H. Williams

The following is the third of a four-part summary of Fred W. Kennedy's historical novel, Huareo, Story of a Jamaican Cacique, published by Ian Randle Publishers. This 2015 fiction is based on the life of the Taino chief, Cacique Huareo, who lived in what is now called Port Maria in St Mary, and who resisted the Europeans who disturbed the idyllic life the Taino led on the island of Yamaye (Jamaica).

The section opens with Franciscan priest, Friar Antonio Diaz del Castillo, praying on the beach of Santa Gloria. The Spaniards had returned to Yamaye (Jamaica) to colonise it for King Ferdinand. But as he prayed on the sands the friar was nervous, fearful of Taino attacks.

The first governor was Captain don Juan de Esquivel, who said he was authorised to subjugate the Taino and convert them to Catholicism.

Esquivel instructed his men to remain on-board until he had met with chiefs of the island. They spoke of Huareo's opposition to their arrival, and some insisted that a new town be built whether the caciques liked it or not. The friar was not in agreement, but was told to stay out of governance and attend to the spiritual elements of the venture. He left the meeting feeling uneasy.

Meanwhile, Cacique Huareo, his cousin Guababo, and his son Amayao met with Mamyo, cacique of Maima, near where the strangers were docked. They discussed Esquivel's deeds in Haiti and the need to defend Yamaye.

Eventually, Huareo, his son, and the caciques of Maima and Guayguata met with Esquivel on his ship. Esquivel wanted their help in providing food, seeking gold, and clearing lands to establish a town. He said the Taino were now the subjects of King Ferdinand and if they did not cooperate, he would use force to carry out the king's wishes.

To appease them, the Spaniards attempted to give the Taino gifts. Huareo turned his back on the strangers and their beads and broken glasses and stormed off the ship. He just wanted them to leave the island. "Our ships are anchored in the bay and are not leaving. We trust you have the wisdom to instruct your people to work willingly for us," the audacious Esquivel warned.

But while Huareo was serious about not embracing the strangers, near Maima, Cacique Mamyo was helping them to clear the land. The Spaniards were vigilant as the Taino slaved away to please them. And Friar Antonio told Mamyo of his intention to convert all the sons of the caciques.

The idyllic life in Huareo's village continued, however. Yet, he and his people discussed the clear and present danger of the establishment of Sevilla. The strangers were carrying out atrocities, and they were very uncomfortable.

Cacique Iguaco of Guayguata was the latest to be captured, so Huareo prepared 200 warriors to launch a surprise attack on Sevilla if Iguaco was not released. "We will no longer do as the strangers ask. It is against the will of Yaya (Supreme God) for the strangers to hold out cacique prisoner," Huareo declared.

He was also livid when he learned of Friar Antonio's influence over his son Amayao, who had accepted a gift from the priest. In a fit of rage he attempted to strangle Amayao, but saved him and told him to stay away from the friar.

Things were not going well in Sevilla either. Don Esquivel paid Friar Antonio a visit to discuss the development of the village and how important it was to succeed as he was not in the king's favour. He complained about the inability of the Taino, and suggested the importation of Africans since they were stronger. Moreover, the Taino were escaping to the hills. Friar Antonio warned against the mistreatment of the Taino.

He had converted the former cacique of Maima and nine sons of caciques and intended to baptise them. He gave them refuge in the villages, but told them to go get the mothers and the babies. Amayao revealed to him that his father was planning an attack on Sevilla.

Before Huareo launched the attack, he discussed it with his wife, Yari. He told her Mamyo and his son were traitors. Amayao was banished. His eldest daughter, Aquiana, would inherit the chiefdom. She, too, was trained to fight the strangers.

When Huareo and his warriors finally attacked Sevilla, things did not go as planned. The strangers they captured for ransom turned out to be dead, and the strangers retaliated by firing cannons into the hills where the Taino fled.

Another act of reprisal was the executions of Huareo's cousin, Hacona, and Cacique Iguaco by Esquivel himself, in the name of the king and queen. Friar Antonio had attempted to prepare them for "eternal life", but the defiant Hacona rebuked him.

Esquivel spoke with Friar again about the king's displeasure with his work, or the lack thereof. He did not think he was doing enough to satisfy the wishes of the Crown, and he was asked to step down. He was not well and suspected he was dying.