Imperialism at Its Ugly Core

Letter to the Taino/ Arawak people
from King Ferdinand*
of Spain
and his daughter
Jauna "the Mad" - Queen of Castille

delivered by Cristoforo Columbo on second trip 1493

In the name of King Ferdinand and Juana, his daughter, Queen of Castile and Leon, etc., conquerors of barbarian nations, we notify you as best we can that our Lord God Eternal created Heaven and earth and a man and woman from whom we all descend for all times and all over the world. In the 5,000 years since creation the multitude of these generations caused men to divide and establish kingdoms in various parts of the world, among whom God chose St. Peter as leader of mankind, regardless of their law, sect or belief. He seated St. Peter in Rome as the best place from which to rule the world but he allowed him to establish his seat in all parts of the world and rule all people, whether Christians, Moors, Jews, Gentiles or any other sect. He was named Pope, which means admirable and greatest father, governor of all men. Those who lived at that time obeyed St. Peter as Lord and superior King of the universe, and so did their descendants obey his successors and so on to the end of time.

The late Pope gave these islands and mainland of the ocean and the contents hereof to the above-mentioned King and Queen, as is certified in writing and you may see the documents if you should so desire. Therefore, Their Highnesses are lords and masters of this land; they were acknowledged as such when this notice was posted, and were and are being served willingly and without resistance; then, their religious envoys were acknowledged and obeyed without delay, and all subjects unconditionally and of their own free will became Christians and thus they remain. Their Highnesses received their allegiance with joy and benignity and decreed that they be treated in this spirit like good and loyal vassals and you are under the obligation to do the same.

Therefore, we request that you understand this text, deliberate on its contents within a reasonable time, and recognize the Church and its highest priest, the Pope, as rulers of the universe, and in their name the King and Queen of Spain as rulers of this land, allowing the religious fathers to preach our holy Faith to you. You own compliance as a duty to the King and we in his name will receive you with love and charity, respecting your freedom and that of your wives and sons and your rights of possession and we shall not compel you to baptism unless you, informed of the Truth, wish to convert to our holy Catholic Faith as almost all your neighbors have done in other islands, in exchange for which Their Highnesses bestow many privileges and exemptions upon you. Should you fail to comply, or delay maliciously in so doing, we assure you that with the help of God we shall use force against you, declaring war upon you from all sides and with all possible means, and we shall bind you to the yoke of the Church and of Their Highnesses; we shall enslave your persons, wives and sons, sell you or dispose of you as the King sees fit; we shall seize your possessions and harm you as much as we can as disobedient and resisting vassals. And we declare you guilty of resulting deaths and injuries, exempting Their Highnesses of such guilt as well as ourselves and the gentlemen who accompany us. We hereby request that legal signatures be af fixed to this text and pray those present to bear witness for us, etc.

- Hatuey -
Taino Chief
- burned at the stake

Rica & Fraea
kept up the fight

Hatuey (murdered February 2, 1512) was a Taíno Cacique [chief] from the island of Hispaniola, who lived in the early sixteenth century. He has attained legendary status for leading a group of natives in a fight against the invading Spanish, and thus becoming the second fighter against colonialism in the New World after Anacaona. He is celebrated as "Cuba's First National Hero."

In 1511, Diego Velázquez set out from Hispaniola to conquer the island of Caobana [Cuba]. He was preceded, however, by Hatuey, who fled Hispaniola with a party of four hundred in canoes and warned the inhabitants of Caobana about what to expect from the Spaniards.

Dominican Priest , Bartolomé de Las Casas later attributed the following speech to Hatuey.
Hatuey showed the Taíno of Caobana (Cuba) a basket of gold and jewels, saying:

Here is the God the Spaniards worship. For these they fight and kill; for these they persecute us and that is why we have to throw them into the sea... They tell us, these tyrants, that they adore a God of peace and equality, and yet they usurp our land and make us their slaves. They speak to us of an immortal soul and of their eternal rewards and punishments, and yet they rob our belongings, seduce our women, violate our daughters. Incapable of matching us in valor, these cowards cover themselves with iron that our weapons cannot break...

The people of Caobana could not believe Hatuey's message, and few joined him to fight. Hatuey resorted to guerrilla tactics against the Spaniards, and was able to confine them to their fort at Baracoa. Eventually the Spaniards succeeded in capturing him. On February 2, 1512, he was tied to a stake and burned alive at Yara.
Before he was burned, a priest asked Hatuey, if he would accept Jesus and go to heaven.

La Casas recalled the reaction of the chief:

Hatuey, thinking a little, asked the religious man if Christians went to heaven.
The religious man answered yes...
The chief then said without further thought that
he did not want to go there but to hell so as not to be where they were and where he would not see such cruel people.

This is the name and honor that the Christian God and faith have earned.

* Ferdinand the Catholic (10 March 1452 – 23 January 1516),
King of Aragon (1479–1516, as Ferdinand II), Sicily (1468–1516), Naples (1504–1516), Valencia, Sardinia, and Navarre, Count of Barcelona,
jure uxoris King of Castile (1474–1504, as Ferdinand V, in right of his wife, Isabella)
then Regent of that country also from 1508 to his death, in the name of his mentally unstable daughter ** Joanna the Mad.