Sat | Mar 24, 2018


Published:Sunday | May 8, 2016 | 12:00 AMPaul H. Williams

The following is the final 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).

Esquivel was fired as governor, and died soon after. Pedro de Mazuelo, the newly appointed treasurer of the island, was put in charge of governance, and his attitude towards the Taino was no different from Esquivel's.

Cacique Huareo was very uneasy with the situation in Yamaye. He was also devastated by the treachery by his son, Amayao, and the cacique of Maima, of the Taino people, whom he was prepared to defend.

He exhorted the evil spirits to go, and the good ones to stay. In reflecting on the atrocities being committed against his people, he said, "We are peaceful, not trained to fight, and had no enemies, we used the spear to hunt, but now we must use it to kill."


Learning masonry


Mazuelo, himself was not pleased with the state of affairs on the island, but for a different reason. He wanted Friar Antonio to pull his converts from school so that they could learn masonry. If the Taino resisted, he would kill them. He also said the swampy site of Sevilla was not healthy, and sent messages to Huareo that he would destroy his village.

To appease Mazuelo, Friar Antonio promised to train the family of the former cacique of Maima in masonry, but he expressed concerns over the lack of funding the Church was getting.

Knowing that the governor was planning to attack, Huareo decided to relocate his people to the mountains of Guayguata where the Spaniards could not trace them. He addressed them telling them why they had to leave. They had a feast of cassava bread and fish before departing, war was imminent.

Huareo and the Spaniards met face to face at the foot of a hill. His son was among the strangers. Huareo attempted to harm him, but was restrained by his cousin, Guababo. Amayao wanted him to "acknowledge the Church as the ruler and superior of the whole world". If not, he would wage war against Huareo, his wife and children.

A stranger's dog was then instructed to attack Huareo, who fell on to the ground and played dead. The dog was clubbed to death by Guababo, who fled with Huareo's daughter, Aquiana. Then Huareo was knocked to the ground and dragged to his village, which was deserted. The village was burnt and Huareo taken prisoner.

The new governor, don Francisco de Garay, was concerned about the dwindling Taino population, which was creating a labour shortage, and rebuked Mazuelo for not vacating the governor's residence, and the shortfalls in revenues. The friar, too, was annoying the governor, who threatened to remove him if he continued to speak out against the ill-treatment of the Taino.

The friar visited Huareo in prison to prepare his "soul for eternal life" before he was executed. Huareo defied him and denounced his Christian teachings. "Our people will not surrender, we will continue to fight. Even if you put me to death, my spirit will live ... You can tell your governor this. I am still Cacique Huareo and the spirit of the Taino still lives in the land," the defiant Huareo said.

He escaped from prison and travelled up the Guayguata River to the hills where his people had relocated. He got a hero's welcome, and learned that his village and Maima were totally destroyed. The Taino were enslaved and he vowed not to surrender. His father had died, and his cousin Guababo was ailing from a disease he caught from the Spaniards. He visited Guababo who killed himself by drinking poisonous cassava juice.

Sevilla was relocated from the swamps and a new town, Sevilla la Nueva, was built. As the town grew the Taino were dying by the hundreds from diseases and overwork. Dominican friar, Bartolome de las Casas, petitioned for the importation of Africans to replace them.

The governor and the friar were commended by the king for their work in transforming the Taino, but the governor and the treasurer continued to bicker over the management of Santiago (Jamaica). In any case, Governor Garay intended to leave the island in search of gold and glory for the king.

set his people free

While the Spaniards were at odds Huareo was planning to set his people free. Along with Adofo, an escaped African, Huareo attacked a Spanish settlement in the dark of night. Many Spaniards were killed. The enslaved Taino escaped, but some were killed.

Amayao, baptised Diego del Castillo by Friar Antonio, became a skilled sculptor, but began to question the teachings of the friar and the actions of the Church. He longed to see his family and wanted forgiveness from his father.

Upon the departure of Garay, Mazuelo became governor, on whose behalf Friar Antonio went to see Huareo by travelling up the river. It was the friar who unlocked the prison door so that Huareo could escape. But the friar was humiliated and was "kicked ... in the rear and pushed down to the river".


transition of power


The section ends with Huareo discussing with his daughter, Aquiana, the transition of power from him to her. They also talked about his son's betrayal of his people.

The story of Cacique Huareo ends with a letter from Fray Diego del Castillo to The Most Sacred Catholic Majesty of the Holy Roman Empire. He was now in La Espanola at the Monasterio de San Francisco.

In the letter, he wrote about, the atrocities committed against the Taino, many of whom escaped to hills; the disappearance of Friar Antonio; and the mismanagement of Santiago by Governor Mazuelo and the auditor, Toralba.

The town of Sevilla de Nueva was abandoned by the Spanish and destroyed by the Taino. The capital was now Santiago de la Vega, where Governor Mazuelo resided.

Cacique Huareo died a rebel leader in The Blue Mountains. Amayao expressed shame for betraying him, but was grateful to have seen him again before he died. His sister, Aquiana, was now cacique. Her people were joined by runaway Africans, and together they became the first Jamaican Maroons (Cimmarones).

Fray del Castillo beseeched the head of the Catholic Church to intervene into conflict between the Taino and the Spaniards so that peace could be restored and the Taino, the good and noble ones, given back their rights. "I am a Christian, but Taino blood runs deep within my veins," he wrote.