Biography of cacique Canoabo (¿-1496)

Dominican chieftain born perhaps in Managua (the exact date is unknown) and died at port of la Isabela in 1496. He was one of the most powerful chiefs of the island of Santo Domingo and responsible for the attack which destroyed the strong Christmas in 1493 and ended all Spaniards who were in the same. Subsequently, continued managing the indigenous Europeans against resistance, until it was captured by Alonso de Ojeda.

Came into the world possibly in Maguana (Santo Domingo), town of which was their chieftain, so it was one of the four great indigenous Lords of the island of Hispaniola when the Spaniards discovered it. His wife, Anacaona, was the sister of another of these great chieftains, called Behequio, and according to Bartolomé de las Casas was "a remarkable woman, very wise, very funny, and palancina in his talk, arts and Wiggles and amicisima of the Christians". Canoabo attacked the strong Christmas, built by Columbus on December 25, 1492, with the remains of the nao Santa María, where left some forty sailors under the command of Spider with his men. After destroying the first Spanish settlement in America, he killed all his defenders; This is at least what he said Admiral chieftain Guacanagarí, adding that they had wounded him to defend them. This testimony could not be confirmed since it was not an only survivor of such tragedy.

Caonabo attacked again the Spanish in 1494, specifically that Colon commanded the Fort of Santo Tomás, Cibao, under the orders of Pedro Margarit, where had to collect gold. Admiral sent Alonso de Ojeda, who departed from la Isabela in April of 1494 and Canoabo forced to lift the siege, after having arrested some leading Indians sent Colon to rescue them. However, Caonabo continued fighting to the Castilians and managed Confederation with the other three chiefs leading the island, which were Guariones, Behequio and Higuanama. In 1495 Columbus ordered Ojeda that you capture Canoabo. The Spanish captain was riding to his village of Maguana and offered him some shackles, telling him that they were a gift bracelet. When he managed to put on them rose to the chieftain to the rump of his horse so that you show to your town and as he narrated Las Casas "turn... the road to la Isabela, as (that) walked back, and slowly moving away, until the Indians who watched it from afar... lost it from sight;" and so gave them cantonada and taunt became the really". Ojeda took prisoner to Isabela, where Columbus had him shackled at home. This provoked the revolt of Canoabo, repressed with much difficulty by the Spanish brothers. The battle of la Vega Real, undertaken by Cristóbal Colón and his brother Bartholomew, ended the rebellion.

Colon sent prisoner Caonabo to Spain, in a fleet which departed from la Isabela in 1496, together with hundreds of Indians enslaved. A hurricane sank almost all ships of the fleet in the same port, so Caonabo, which was chained, died drowned.


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CASAS, Bartolomé of the: history of the Indies. Madrid: Atlas, 1957.

SERRANO and SANZ, Manuel: Origins of Spanish domination in America. Madrid, 1918