MimiTVA posting from the DMV
More on La Vida En Black Venezuela
As soon as enslaved Africans arrived in Venezuela, a movement of resistance and rebellion to enslavement was born. Communities of Africans who had freed themselves were immediately formed and WERE also well organized.
The first documented insurrection was the rebellion in 1532 in Coro against the abominable conditions in the mines.
A heroic family emerged from these rebellions, creating a powerful historic legacy that still resonates today. The history of Rey Miguel has been told from generation-to-generation in keeping with oral traditions of the elders telling the stories of our history from the motherland in Africa. As the story is told, Miguel was an African plucked from his home and brought in chains to Venezuela because of his skills to mine in Buria Mines of Venezuela or “Real de Minas de San Felipe de Buría” (close to Nirgua, in the actual state of Yaracuy) where it was believed to be “El Dorado”. They were forced to take gold from the native population for the greedy Spanish Conquistadors.
When they arrived in Venezuela, they were sent into the bowels of earth to mine for gold under conditions that any human would rebel against. The abhorrent conditions in the mines in Venezuela for the enslaved led to them fighting for and succeeding in securing their freedom from the ills of slavery in 1532. Then 20 years later, the most successful insurrection occurred in 1552, led by an enslaved African, known as El Rey Miguel or en Ingles, King Miguel.
Rey Miguel along with his wife Guiomar (Reina Guiomar) and son then founded a cumbe,or cimarrón (escaped slave) settlement. Miguel and Guiomar reigned together and were known throughout the region as a community of rebels. From that initial rebellion in 1553 they killed their evil enslavers and were successful in escaping. They built a moat around their newly formed township. They began to slowly build their cumbe. They organized their own government, built homes, and chose a spiritual leader who taught the cimarrones to practice their own ancient religion from Africa. Rey Miguel eventually amassed an insurgent army of hundreds of enslaved people, Mulattos, Zambos, and indigenous people to attack colonial establishments to maintain their freedom.
They claim in Venezuela that Rey Miguel’s origin and beliefs were rooted in the ancient religions and practices from Africa. Miguel may have been born in Angola, Mozambique or the Congo. He as well as his wife, Guiomar and the Bishop of the cumbe, brought their African beliefs to the Americas, which had mixed with the system of indigenous beliefs of Venezuelan’s aborigines that they shared and combined during their stay on the banks of the Buría River.
Miguel and his men would sneak onto the plantations in the middle of the night and began to plot with the enslaved people to unite with the Cimaronnes. As time passed, they became a community of more than 1500 people in the Cumbe and over 10,000 in the surrounding freed community. El Negro Miguel was crowned the King, his wife Guiormar the Queen and their son the Prince of their Cumbe.
The Cumbe resisted several attempts by the Spaniards to destroy their community and re-enslave their residents. But Rey Miguel had fortified his army with several of the indigenous people and continued to sneak into the plantations at night to help escape enslaved people to their Cumbe in Colinas.
The Cimarrones were eventually when a surprise attack led by an Indian named Tocuyo, and broke the doors of the new kingdom .. They murdered Miguel and some of the former slaves were captured and enslaved again, but most escaped by forming other black communities / cumbes in the country. Cumbes and Cimarrone communities continued to grow throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and in 1720 there were about 30,000 freed Africans living in Cumbes through Venezuela and 60,000 enslaved Africans still held captive on the plantations.
Queen Guiomar, probably the first and only black queen in the Americas, was captured with her son and re-enslaved. But numerous accounts tell of Miguel’s escape via spiritual means in the ways of the Africans. Legend says Rey Miguel took a big booty of gold and found refuge in Curduvaré (that translates “Free as the hare” (today Cerro María Lionza Natural Monument), and there he “met María Lionza”. And many say that Miguel survived the attack and helped to free Queen Guiomar and their son again.
Queen Guiomar, the Goddess of Sorte is considered the first spiritualist to combine and develop the religion of the Goddess that the Indians worshiped in the Sacred Mountain, which later became known as the Queen’s Mountain ( an allusion to the wife of Rey Miguel).
Guiomar was renown as a kind woman who dedicated herself to attend to the group that, together with Miguel, would lead this independent cumbe community. Guiomar is considered the be the first priestess of the Goddess of the Jirahara Indians, fusing the indigenous beliefs with those of the Africans into a single group. Today, there are several versions about the origin of Queen María Lionza, but this story with it’s roots in African spirituality supports the belief that the Goddess was Guiomar herself, a “Black Queen”.
And since Miguel did not die, it was there in Curduvaré that he became part of the Queen’s court. Miguel spent the rest of his days in the caves, undercover, continually assisting in resistance attacks and helping to free the other 30,000 freed Africans in the 16 and 17 hundred’s on Venezuelan soil.
Today you can visit the Royal Fort of Minas de Buría, currently “Ruinas de San Vicente”, which is said to have served to defend and safeguard the attack of the Nivar Indians, the last tribe of the Jirahara branch. Throughout history it was called a number of official names: Fort Real of Santa Maria de Arquicia, Fort of Santa Maria de Nirgua, Fort of Santa Maria de Nívar, (when the act of foundation of Nirgua in 1628 was signed) Ruins of San Vicente, The Ruins of San Vicente are declared “National Historic Monument” in 1960, besides being a State Heritage Yaracuy.
For more about Rey Miguel go to