Hatuey: The Forgotten Haitian Cacique
Hatuey (pronounced AH-TWAY) was born and raised in Quisqueya/Haiti. Following the conquest of the island of Ayiti by the Spaniards, Hatuey was witness to the atrocities by the Spanish Conquistadors against his people, the Arawak/Taino Amerindians. Soon after, Cacique Hatuey and his followers fled to Cuba to escape persecution and a death sentence, imposed upon him, by the Spanish crown. After some years of living clandestinely and leading the Cuban Arawak community, Hatuey was finally captured and sentenced to death. His execution sentence: to be burnt alive at the stake.
Before his execution, a Spanish priest tried to convert him to Christianity - by force, which is how most of our ancestors became Christians. The priest explained to him that if he agreed to be baptized, that he would be cleansed from all sins against the Christian God. Hatuey asked the priest: 'After being baptized, where do people go after death?' The priest replied: 'To Heaven', to which Hatuey asked: 'And the Spaniards, where do they go?' The priest answered: 'If they are baptized, of course they shall go to Heaven like all good Christians.' As soon as the honorable Cacique heard that response, he bravely uttered: 'If the Spaniards will go to Heaven, then I certainly do not wish to go there! So, do not baptize me, I'd rather go to Hell!'
N.B.: This is the story of Cacique Hatuey's execution, as was originally recorded by Father Bartomole de las Casas and is still part of the oral tradition in the eastern provinces of Cuba. In Cuba, Hatuey is often called the first Cuban hero!
Even today, in the 21st Century, Cacique Hatuey, the first Cuban national hero, is still being honored in Cuba. Many monuments have been built in his honor. Many soft drinks, bear his name and effigy. Hence, although Cuba was not his birthplace, he is remembered and exalted there as a hero. Why can't we Quisqueyans/Haitians remember and honor a hero born from the very womb of Quisqueya/Haiti?
We urge all Quisqueyan citizens to honor and recognize Cacique Hatuey as a Haitian national hero!
More Hatuey artifacts: