The monument of Hatuey, in Baracoa city, Cuba -- the place he besieged the most while fighting the Spanish forces.
Monument of Taino chief Hatuey in Yara city, depicting the moment he was burnt by Spanish soldiers, bound to a Tamarind tree planted in 1907.
Plate at the base of the monument. It reads "To the memory of Chief Hatuey, unforgettable native, precursor of the Cuban fight for freedom, he offered his life, glorifying his ideals while tormented by the flames on 2/2/1512. Monuments Delegation of Yara, 1999".
Hatuey (died February 2, 1512) was a Taíno Cacique (chief) from the island of Ayiti (now 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 Spaniards, and thus becoming the first fighter against colonialism in the New World. 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.
Bartolomé de Las Casas later attributed the following speech to Hatuey. He showed the Taíno of Caobana 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 did 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 him if he would accept Jesus and go to heaven. Las Casas recalled the reaction of the chief:
[Hatuey], thinking a little, asked the religious man if Spaniards 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 God and our faith have earned.
Hatuey also lives on in the name of a beer brewed by Empresa Cerveceria Hatuey Santiago, a brewery in Santiago de Cuba, and one brand of a type of sugary, non-alcoholic malt beverage called Malta.
^ abRunning Fox, 'The Story of Cacique Hatuey, Cuba's First National Hero', La Voz del Pueblo Taíno (The Voice of the Taíno People) (United Confederation of Taino People, U.S. Regional Chapter, January 1998)