Statue of Agüeybaná II, "El Bravo", in Ponce, Puerto Rico
|Nickname(s)||"El Bravo" (The Brave)|
in Puerto Rico/"Borikén"
in Puerto Rico/"Borikén"
|Commands held||Taínos of "Borikén"|
|Battles/wars||Taíno rebellion of 1511|
|Relations||Brother of Agüeybaná|
Agüeybaná II (c. 1470 – 1511), born Güeybaná and also known as Agüeybaná El Bravo (English: Agüeybaná The Brave), was one of the two principal and most powerful caciques of the Taíno people in "Borikén" when the Spaniards first arrived in Puerto Rico on November 19, 1493. Agüeybaná II led the Taínos of Puerto Rico in the Battle of Yagüecas, also known as the "Taíno rebellion of 1511" against Juan Ponce de León and the Spanish Conquistadors.
Agüeybana, which has been interpreted by 19th and 20th-century authors as meaning "The Great Sun", was the hereditary title shared by the family that ruled the theocratic monarchy of Borikén, governing the hierarchy over the rest of the regional chiefs or caciques. Like other nobiliary recognitions within Taíno culture, it was passed down through the maternal bloodline. The Spanish Hispanicized the title to be the equivalent of the European concept of kings, with contemporary writers such as Juan de Castellanos employing the title of Rey Agüeybana (literally meaning "King Agüeybana") when referring to him after inheriting it from his brother and becoming the second monarch to lead the Taíno during the 1510s.
Arrival of the Conquistadors
Agüeybaná, the older, received Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León upon Ponce de León's arrival to Puerto Rico in 1508. According to an old Taíno tradition, Agüeybaná practiced the "guaytiao", a Taíno ritual in which he and Juan Ponce de León became friends and exchanged names. Agüeybaná's had obeyed his mother's advice to become friends with the Spaniards lest they all die at their hands. The hospitality and friendly treatment that the Spaniards received from Agüeybaná made it easy for the Spaniards to betray and conquer the island later. Agüeybaná's actions helped to maintain the peace between the Taíno and the Spaniards, a peace which was to be short-lived.
Taíno rebellion of 1511
Upon the senior Agüeybaná's death in 1510, his brother  Güeybaná (better known as Agüeybaná II) became the most powerful Cacique in the entire island. Agüeybaná II had his doubts about the "godly" status of the Spaniards. He came up with a plan to test the perceived godly nature of the Spanish: he and Urayoán (cacique of Añasco) sent some of their tribe members to lure a Spaniard by the name of Diego Salcedo into a river and drown him. They watched over Salcedo's body to make sure that he would not resuscitate. Salcedo's death was enough to convince him and the rest of the Taíno people that the Spaniards were not gods.
Agüeybaná II, held Areytos (war dances) or secret meetings with others caciques where he organized a revolt against the Spaniards. Cristobal de Sotomayor sent a spy, Juan González, to one of the Areitos where he learned of Agüeybaná's plans. In spite of the warning, Agüeybana II killed Sotomayor and his men, and gravely wounded González. Juan González escaped making his way to Caparra where he reported the killings to Ponce de León. Meanwhile, Guarionex, cacique of Utuado, attacked the village of Sotomayor (present day Aguada) and killed eighty of its inhabitants.  After this, Ponce de León led the Spaniards in a series of offensives against the Tainos that culminated in the Battle of Yagüecas.
In 1511, in the region known as Yagüecas some 11,000 to 15,000 Taínos had assembled against some 80 to 100 Spaniards. Before the start of the battle, a Spanish soldier using an arquebus shot and killed a native. It is presumed this was Agüeybaná II, because the warrior was wearing a golden necklace which only a cacique wore.
Aftermath of the battle
After the death of Agüeybaná II, the native warriors retracted and became disorganized. Agüeybaná II's followers opted for engaging the Spaniards via guerilla tactics. Such guerilla warfare rebellion lasted for the next 8 years, until 1519. A second round of raids erupted in 1513 when Ponce de Leon departed the island to explore Florida. The settlement of Caparra, the seat of the island government at that time, was sacked and burned by an alliance between Taínos and natives from the northeastern Antilles.
By 1520 the Taíno presence in the Island had almost disappeared. A government census in 1530 reports the existence of only 1,148 Taínos remaining in Puerto Rico. However, oppressive conditions for the surviving Taíno continued. Many of those who stayed on the island soon died of either the cruel treatment that they had received or of the smallpox epidemic, which had attacked the island in 1519.
Agüeybaná II is admired in Puerto Rico for his loyalty to his people. Puerto Rico has named many public buildings and streets after him:
- The City of Bayamón has named a high school after him.
- There is a street in Caguas that honors him.
- An avenue in the Hato Rey area of San Juan is named after Agüeybaná.
- Puerto Rico once had an equivalent to the Oscars which was awarded annually and was called the "Agüeybaná de Oro" (The Golden Agüeybaná), in honor of the great cacique.
- In the "Caracoles" sector of barrio Playa in Ponce, Puerto Rico, there is a small park with a statue depicting Agüeybaná II, "El Bravo" (The Brave). It is located on the southeast corner of the intersection of Ponce By-pass (PR-2) and Avenida Hostos (PR-123).
- Poet Daniel de Rivera composed a poem titled "Agüeybaná El Bravo" dedicated to him. It partially reads:
- List of Puerto Ricans
- Agüeybaná I
- List of Taínos
- Tibes Indigenous Ceremonial Center
|Ancestors of Agüeybaná II|
- La Rebelion del Cacique Agüeybaná II. En Marcha: Organo del Comite Central del Partido Comunista Maxista Leninista de Ecuador. Seccion: Testimonio y Dialéctica. 8 May 2006. Page 1. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
- Land Tenure Development in Puerto Rico. Archived 2006-09-13 at the Wayback Machine Cathy Bryan. Department of Spatial Information Science and Engineering. University of Maine. Orono, Maine. ca. 2000. Old Town, Maine: James W. Sewall Company. Page 5. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- Puerto Rico y su historia: Investigaciones críticas. Salvador Brau. Valencia, España: Imprenta Francisco Vives Mora. 1894. Page 64. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- La Rebelión del Cacique Agüeybaná II. En Marcha: Organo del Comite Central del Partido Comunista Maxista Leninista de Ecuador. Seccion: Testimonio y Dialéctica. 8 May 2006. Page 1. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
- Elegias de Varones illustres de Indias. Juan de Castellanos. Biblioteca de Autores Españoles: Desde la Formacion del Lenguaje Hasta Nuestros Dias. (Commissioned by D. Buenaventura Carlos Aribau.) Second Edition. Madrid: M. Rivadeneyra. p. 125. 1857. Accessed 23 July 2017.
- Del mito al hito: la defensa de los taínos. Héctor L. Sánchez. La Perla del Sur. Ponce, Puerto Rico. 26 December 2012. (Title in printed version: "Del mito al hito: Conozca la brave defensa de los tainos." Year 31. Issue 1517. Page 28.) Retrieved 26 December 2012.
- Historia general y natural de las Indias, islas y tierra-firme del mar oceano (in Spanish). 23 October 1851. p. 467. Retrieved 6 November 2019 – via Internet Archive.
- Puerto Rico y su historia: Investigaciones críticas. Salvador Brau. Valencia, España: Imprenta Francisco Vives Mora. 1894. Pages 64 and 180. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. W. H. Holmes. 25th Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. 1903–1904. Washington: Government Printing Office. 1907. Page 38. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- Puerto Rico in the Great Depression: History. Archived 2007-11-05 at the Wayback Machine "Puerto Rico: A Guide to the Island of Boriquén." Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration in Cooperation with the Writer's Program of the Work Projects Administration. 1940. (Federal Writers Project, 1940.) New York: The University Society, Inc. (American Guide Series) p. 36-67. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- Historical Overview of Colonial Puerto Rico_The Importance of San Juan as a Military Outpost.doc A Historical Overview of Colonial Puerto Rico: The Importance of San Juan as a Military Outpost.[permanent dead link] National Park Service. San Juan National Historic Site. History and Culture. no date. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- Caciques and Cemí Idols: The Web Spun by Taíno Rulers Between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. José R. Oliver. The University of Alabama Press. 2009. Page 4. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- El Mito de la Muerte de Agueybana: y de los Caciques Colaboradoes Caguax y Don Alfonso. Francisco Moscoso. Revista ICP. Year 10. Number 20. Page 46. 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2012.
- Caciques and Cemí Idols: The Web Spun by Taíno Rulers Between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. José R. Oliver. The University of Alabama Press. 2009. Pages 4, 41. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- Puerto Rico. Yale University. Genocide Studies Program. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- Puerto Rico's First People Archived December 31, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- El Gran Combo. Music of Puerto Rico. (Reference to the "Agüeybaná de Oro".) Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- Socorro Giron. Ponce, el Teatro La Perla, y la Campana de la Almudaina. Gobierno Municipal de Ponce. Ponce, Puerto Rico. 1992. Page 71. LOC Number: 85-90989.
|Newsreel of the "Homenaje a Agüeybaná El bravo" at the Plaza Agüeybaná II, in Ponce, Puerto Rico, at youtube.com.|