La Vida En Black History Month… #BlackHistoryIsGlobal
During the Spanish colonial period in Mexico the indigenous people enslaved by the Colonists was greatly diminished by disease. In order to replace their labor shortage, the Spanish brought in African slaves to Mexico to toil the sugar fields and work the underground mines. Worth much more than the indigenous slaves, the Africans were highly sought after because they were known for their strength and stamina in the hot sun. Historians It speculate that 200,000 Africans were brought over to be enslaved in Mexico but many say the number was far higher, more like 500,000 African slaves. And as with most stories of slavery throughout the America’s there was resistance and rebellion in every century and every country.
In Mexico, The Primer Libertador of the Americas was an African slave named Gaspar Yanga. Yanga was the master mind behind the most successful slave rebellion in Mexican history having taken place around the year 1570. Believed to be a member of the royal house of Gabon, Africa, this hero was responsible for leading the slaves in a successful revolt. Under Yanga’s reign, the slaves were able to escape to safety in the highlands of Veracruz. There they built a small maroon colony surviving for over three decades by ambushing caravans bringing goods to Veracruz. Finally in 1609 the Spanish decided they were going to fight for control of the territory.
About 550 Spanish troops set out from Puebla in January of 1609. But the maroons were a scrappy force of 100 men using some type of firearm, and 400 more armed with primitive weapons – stones, machetes, bows and arrows, and more. The maroon army was led by Francisco de la Matosa, an Angolan. Yanga—who was now quite old— employed his army’s innate intelligence of the terrain to hold off the Spaniards and did manage to cause them enough distress to bring them to the negotiating table. The Maroons fought long and hard for months.
When the Spanish troops finally approached the maroons; Yanga sent terms of peace via a captured Spaniard. Yanga asked for a treaty akin to those that had settled hostilities between Indians and Spaniards: an area of self-rule, in return for tribute and promises to support the Spanish if they were attacked. In addition, he suggested that this proposed district would return any slaves which might flee to it. That last concession was needed to assuage the slave owners of Vera Cruz. And Unbelievably, after 30 years in the mountains, Yanga negotiated a treaty with the Spanish. The treaty was hard fought and well earned. In the end, Yanga received his desired goal of free community. Today, the town of Yanga in Veracruz is a living testimony to this incredible achievement. Now That’s La Vida En Black History from Mexico…