In 1517 Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba sailed from Cuba to look for slaves for the mines in Cuba and landed on Isla Mujeres. The reason they landed here is because when you sail from the western tip of Cuba you can see the clouds forming up in the sky from seventy miles away, over the hot lands of the Yucatan Coast as the Gulf Stream sweeps by. Isla Mujeres was named this by the Spaniards because of the female goddesses here. The names of the idols were Aixchel, Ixchebeliax, Ixhunie, and Ixhunieta. The island also had sophisticated stone buildings and some gold ornaments which the Spaniards stole. After exploring westward along the coast of Yucatan in the Gulf of Mexico, the Spaniards received a good beating at the town of Champoton by the Lord of the community whose name was Moch- Covoh. They then returned to Cuba.
Here the tales of the gold they found stirred up gold fever and Diego Velasquez, governor of Cuba at the time, sent his nephew Juan de Grijalva with four ships and two hundred soldiers on May 1st, 1518. Alaminos was the pilot again on this trip and this time the warlike expedition landed on Cozumel. Alaminos already knew the Gulf of Mexico route and wanted to explore the other way. They went as far as Bahia Ascension south of Cozumel, about one hundred and fifty miles north of Belize today. Then they turned around and went north around Cape Catoche and west along the Gulf coast. Again they had a bittle at Champoton, but continued further west where they managed to conduct some trade and bring back goods to Cuba.
Hernando Cortes was in Cuba at the time and heard the tales of this new land and sailed for this new fabulous land with eleven ships and five hundred men, horses and goods for barter. Francisco de Montejo as a captain and Alaminos was now the chief pilot of the small armada. They landed in Cozumel again and through a little luck, this is when Aguilar the shipwrecked sailor was reunited with his Spanish countrymen invading the new continent.
FRANCISCO DE MONTEJO THE ADELANTADO ARRIVES IN COROZAL IN 1528
EFFECTS OF THE SPANISH, IN BELIZE & THE YUCATAN
By the time the Spanish got around to belatedly conquering the Yucatan, they found it a much more difficult task than the organized kingdoms of the west. The Mayan economy of Belize and the Yucatan had already collapsed, or was in severe decline, because of the western conquests of the Spanish. What once had been flourishing cities and roads had already deteriorated into scattered settlements. French, Dutch and English pirates had already started to attack the Spanish settlements for their gold by the 1560's.
The Spanish found it difficult to conquer the Yucatan. Their horses were of little benefit, the terrain was harsh and the Maya were aware that resistance would bring reprisals by military expeditions. The Maya thus found it more prudent as a policy to feign submission and then relocate to new settlements. Or go along with the Spanish customs and missionaries were it could not be avoided and return to their own government and religious beliefs when the interlopers departed. The Spanish took more than 165 years to achieve an equivalent control over the Yucatan compared to the few years it took to conquer the mighty civilizations in the west. The Lacandon Maya have never been conquered by the Spanish or the successor government of Mexico and still give trouble to the authorities in Mexico City today.
The Maya war of 1847 was launched across the wide Yucatan and reached from Bacalar in the south almost to the houses of Merida. Only the rainy season intervened and the Mayan troops left the field to return to their villages and planting. The foreign Spanish invaders re-grouped and the Maya had to retreat again, though the new frontier was now about where it had been a hundred years earlier in the mid 1700's. This state of affairs continued for another fifty years.
In 1901, Chan Santa Cruz the cruzob capital fell to federal Mexican troops from central Mexico. The Caste War was technically finished, but not in practice. The Santa Cruz Maya still controlled the district around which is now called Quintana Roo.
The war was not officially over until 1969 with the death of the chief of the cruzob town of Chumpom and the last of the Caste War leaders. This Caste War lasted 122 years, when the new council of Maya elected not to attack the road crew invading their territory, because they could not get modern carbines to fight with.
In the centuries of fighting the Spanish invasion, the Cupul, the Cochuah and the Cocom Maya ( of Sotuta), met with unrelenting resistance from beginning to end any invasion of territory and even today resist any invasion of their territory. While the Chontal Maya on the gulf and east coasts, the Pech, Chel and Canul dynasties and the Xiu of Mani sided with the Spanish.
THE MAYAN CALENDAR - was cyclical and historical unlike Western lineal time.
The Mayan calendar underlined what the Maya did and believed. Their view of time was cyclical and historical. They believed then and still believe today and who is to say they are wrong? That each recurring twenty year period (katun) repeats itself over a 256 year interval. Certainly the history of European wars would lend some credence to this belief.
1542 THE SPANISH DECLARATION OF INVASION AND CONQUEST
The idea that other people could establish governments that were communal and socialist in nature was a foreign idea incomprehensible to the dictatorship type kingdoms of Europe. The idea of common ownership and a community approved principle of social cooperation in the vital necessities of production and distribution is still an elusive idea in Belize and elsewhere. In the modern world it is expressed in de-centralization and autonomous smaller governments by consensus, with one person one vote, instead of the representative democracy form of the dictatorial European model.
The Maya do it still and are far more advanced in government than the modern inherited systems of old Europe. The idea is to achieve social peace, not senseless and destructive economic war in the struggle and ambition for a small group of ambitious individuals to control the destiny of others.
The hardest fight in the history of humanity is finding methods to provide government which will thwart the ambitions of others to rule, dominate and control. This goal has not been achieved in Belize yet in 1996. Though Belizeans before 600 years ago had successfully used this concept of local independent democratic government for many thousands of years, except for the 800 years of the feudal aristocratic noble wars throughout mesoamerica when the imported foreign system of experimental government was imported from the central valley of Mexico and the Aztecs.
Under the declaration of Spanish Captains when they landed in new territory they had to conquer, lay the idea that they owned everything and that fact gave them the legal right to do what was required in their eyes, irregardless of the populations living there at the time who also claimed ownership. The European system was the idea that all land and people were owned by the authority of the state. The state owned everything and everyone, not the people owning the government as in a democracy. Even the people are owned by the state in the European model.
In the Mayan system, the people own their government councils and the community finds a consensus in decision making, as also found in the USA government system today. These two philosophical concepts of how to govern best are vastly different in how government is applied.
In the case of Bishop Landa and the Franciscans, they believed they owned everything, or at least the Spanish Crown did and they had the license to therefore govern in the way they saw fit. With this concept of state ownership and rule, came the excesses of abuse caused by concentrated power. In the Yucatan much of the eastern part was depopulated, and Maya were sold as slaves in Cuba and Central Mexico for the mines. Vast homesteads and ranches were granted including the towns and people living on them, without their knowledge.
It is thus by this background of philosophical concepts in government we can understand Landa, the Proclamation and the Ordinances and the town-burnings, tortures, murders and removals of 1550. This still goes on in Central America, in Salvador, Guatemala, Panama and Nicaragua even today in 1996.
In 1547 the new villa of Salamanca de Bacalar was comprised of only the two Pacheco cousins and a handful of their Spanish conquistador followers. Alonso and Melchor Pacheco were listed as alcaldes. There were three regidores (the ones who rule) ; Pedro de Avila, Alonso Hernandez and Juan Farfan. The public scribe was Juan Perez de Castaneda. The three rulers and Alonso Pecheco received the four encomiendas, while Melchor himself got the biggest encomienda, bigger than the other four put together.
Melchor's grant of ownership by the absentee Spanish crown we know, consisted of Quitun with all the towns and outlying populations, the towns and cabecera of Taxamas and half the towns of Xoca and Bacalar with all the subjects in them. We do know from the archives that Quehtun was one of the towns on a 1582 list of Bacalar provincial towns. The names we know of Mazanahau, Chable and Chetumal were not recorded and may have come into being, after the immediate post-conquest record. The encomienda Chanlacan which was probably in Belize at Progresso Lagoon we know of in 1544.
Being on the frontier and with small garrisons, the Spanish had trouble controlling the local Mayan populations and in many cases, the Maya rebelled by simply moving away, deeper into the forest. It is probable that the Spanish on this frontier gave up in part, because they could not keep captive slave populations by reductions and congregated labor forces (slaves) . Since captive labor was the source of wealth and income, many of the early Spanish supporters must have given up in disgust when they realized wealth was not to be theirs. Fray Lorenzo de Bienvenida was also a moral critic at the time from the sidelines. It was one thing for the absentee Spanish crown and authorities to make grants of lands, villages and towns with their resident peoples, it was another to conquer these same people and make them subject to you if you were given such a grant.
The goal of the Maya rebellion of 1546 was to remove the Spanish invaders completely from the area and was led by those political Maya leaders who also were responsible for religious ceremonies as held in times past. In Belize the rebellion was centered at the town of Chanlaca on Progresso Lagoon. Here the inhabitants had killed their encomendero, Martin Rodriguez known locally as El Piloto. Francisco de Montejo the nephew in northern Yucatan sent Juan de Aguilar to Bacalar to pacify the rebel town in Belize. Here he received a commission and instructions from the cabildo, which had already failed when it had sent a Mayan party from Lamanai to Chanlacan on Progresso Lagoon. Juan de Aquilar seems to have been successful, partially to the influence of his wife. The leadership of various Mayan rebellions to expel the Spanish had first started in 1528 at Chetumal and shifted through the year 1531 to Chequitaquil and finally, to the town of Chanlacan and became fairly successful with the brutal conquest of 1544. The constant effort by the Maya to expel the Spanish intruder army involved all the southern Yucatan, then shifted to the province of Dzuluinicob, which was most of northern Belize as we know it today and then shifted to Tipu, a western Maya town in Belize and eventually to the central Peten.
The wide spread rebellion and warfare went on for many years and the Spanish considered Belize to be the Indian frontier. The Spanish were afraid that with the loss of Bacalar, they would lose the trade routes to the interior of the Peten and also to the south in Guatemala. The Bacalarenos themselves feared losing their slaves, the tribute payers and indios de servicio their system of government and control demanded.
Some political manipulation went on in Bacalar and Merida and Pacheco had his encomienda reassigned to the crown in 1553 and moved farther north into the drier Yucatan with a tributary population of half of Hocaba, which was much larger than his original encomienda at Bacalar and much easier to manage.
Early History Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8