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A large stylized bust on concrete
The monument of Hatuey, in Baracoa city, Cuba—the place he besieged the most while fighting the Spanish forces.
Cacique of Guahaba[1]
Reign? - 2 February 1512
BornQuisqueya (named of the island that is now known as Haiti and the Dominican Republic) There are no records on which part of the island was he born.
Diedc. 2 February 1512
Known forBeing Cuba's "first national hero."
Monument of Taíno 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 liberty, who offered his life, and glorified his rebellion in the martyrdom of the flames on 2/2/1512. Monuments Delegation of Yara, 1999".

Hatuey (/ɑːˈtw/), also Hatüey (/ˌɑːtuˈ/; died February 2, 1512) was a Taíno Cacique (chief) of the Hispaniola province of Guahaba (present-day La Gonave, Haiti).[2] He lived from the late 15th till the early 16th century. One day Chief Hatuey and many of his fellow-men traveled from present-day La Gonave, Haiti by canoe to Cuba to warn the Indigenous people that were in Cuba about the Spaniards that were coming to Cuba. He later attained legendary status for leading a group of Natives in a fight against the invasion of the Spaniards, thus becoming one of the first fighters against colonialism in the New World. He is celebrated as "Cuba's First National Hero."[3] The 2010 film Even the Rain includes a cinematic account of Hatuey's execution.

Life and death[edit]

In 1511, Diego Velázquez set out from Hispaniola to conquer what is now known as the island of Cuba and subjugate Cuba's indigenous people, the Taíno, who had previously been recorded by Christopher Columbus. Velázquez was preceded, however, by Hatuey, who fled Hispaniola with a party of four hundred in canoes and warned some of the Native people of eastern Cuba about what to expect from the Spaniards.[4]

Bartolomé de Las Casas later attributed the following speech to Hatuey which was addressed against Christianity. 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...[5]

The Taíno chiefs in Cuba did not respond to Hatuey's message, and few joined him to fight. Hatuey resorted to guerrilla tactics against the Spaniards, and was able to confine them for a time. He and his fighters were able to kill at least eight Spanish soldiers. Eventually, using mastiffs and torturing the Native people for information, the Spaniards succeeded in capturing him. On February 2, 1512, he was tied to a stake and burned alive at Yara, near the present-day City of Bayamo.[6]

Before he was burned, a priest asked Hatuey 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.[7]


The town of Hatuey, located south of Sibanicú in the Camagüey Province of Cuba, was named after the Taíno hero.

Hatuey also lives on in as a beer brand name. Beer has been brewed in Santiago de Cuba and sold under the Hatuey brand name since 1927, initially by the native Cuban company, Compañia Ron Bacardi S.A. After nationalization of industry in 1960, brewing was taken over by Empresa Cerveceria Hatuey Santiago. Beginning in 2011, the Bacardi family again began making beers in the United States to market under the Hatuey label.[8][9] Hatuey is also a brand of a type of sugary, non-alcoholic malt beverage called Malta.[10][11] Hatuey is also a brand of soda cracker.[12]

In a 2010 film shot in Bolivia, Even the Rain, Hatuey is a main character in the film-within-the-film.[13]

The logo of the Cuban cigar and cigarette brand Cohiba is a picture of Hatuey.

Fine arts[edit]

The imagery of Hatuey has been appropriated and/or incorporated into diverse artistic genres, most notably into the Afro-Cuban Yiddish Opera, "Hatuey: Memory of Fire".[14][15][16] In the visual arts, multiple artists have used the Taíno chief's image, most notably Cuban-American artist Ric Garcia,[17] U.S. Marine Corps artist Donald Dickson,[18] and Australian artist damefine,[19] among others.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tainos: Past and Present".
  2. ^ "Tainos: Past and Present".
  3. ^ Running 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 Taíno People, U.S. Regional Chapter, January 1998)
  4. ^ J. A. Sierra. 'The Legend of Hatuey', The History of Cuba (August 2006). Retrieved September 9, 2006.
  5. ^ Bartolomé de Las Casas, Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies. Translated by Nigel Griffin. (London: Penguin, 1999) ISBN 0-14-044562-5[page needed]
  6. ^ Barreiro, Jose "A Note on Taino," in Akwe, Cornell, View From the Shore, Pon Press, 1990[page needed]
  7. ^ "A violent evangelism: the political and religious conquest of the Americas", Luis N. Rivera, Luis Rivera Pagán, Westminster John Knox Press, 1992, p. 260 ISBN 0-664-25367-9.
  8. ^ Klein, Lee. Hatuey Beer Returns as a Microbrew. Miami New Times, Dec. 6, 2011.
  9. ^ "Bacardi Launches National Distribution of Hatuey". Brewbound. 2014-11-21. Retrieved 2020-08-24.
  10. ^ Soda Pop Stop Archived 2011-07-11 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Quaffmaster. "Malta Hatuey". Weird Soda Review. Retrieved 2020-08-24.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ "Hatuey".
  13. ^ "También la lluvia". IMDb.
  14. ^ Bronxnet. "OPEN Artist Spotlight with cast of Hatuey: Memory of Fire". Bronxnet. Retrieved 2020-08-24.
  15. ^ "Afro-Cuban Yiddish opera with music by The Klezmatics' Frank London". Arts & Cultural Programming. Retrieved 2020-08-24.
  16. ^ "Hatuey Memory Of Fire". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2020-08-24.
  17. ^ "Hatuey: Rebel Chief – MARYLAND MILESTONES". Retrieved 2020-08-24.
  18. ^ Conner, Owen L. (2020-08-06). "The Drinks of the Marine Corps: Hatuey Beer". National Museum of the Marine Corps. Archived from the original on 2021-02-26. Retrieved 2021-08-04.
  19. ^ "Hatuey Chooses Hell by damefine". www.deviantart.com. Retrieved 2020-08-24.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External links[edit]