Agüeybaná I

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Nickname(s) "The Great Sun"
Born Puerto Rico/"Borikén"
Died 1510
Puerto Rico/"Borikén"
Rank Cacique
Commands held Taínos of "Borikén"
Relations Brother of Güeybaná (better known as Agüeybaná II)[1][2][3]

Agüeybaná (died 1510) was one of the two principal and most powerful caciques (chiefs) of the Taíno people in "Borikén" (Puerto Rico) when the Spanish first arrived on the island on November 19, 1493.[4]

"The Great Sun"

Agüeybaná, whose name means "The Great Sun," lived with his tribe in Guaynia (Guayanilla), located near a river of the same name, on the southern part of the island. All the other Caciques were subject to and had to obey Agüeybaná, even though they governed their own tribes.

Arrival of the conquistadors

Agüeybaná received the Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León upon his arrival in 1508. According to an old Taíno tradition, Agüeybaná practiced the "guatiao," a Taíno ritual in which he and Juan Ponce de León became friends and exchanged names. Ponce de León then baptized the cacique's mother into Christianity and renamed her Inés.[5]

The cacique joined Ponce de León in the exploration of the island. After this had been accomplished, Agüeybaná accompanied the conquistador to the island of La Española (what today comprises the nations of the Dominican Republic and Haiti), where he was well received by the Governor Nicolás de Ovando.[6] Agüeybaná's actions helped to maintain the peace between the Taíno and the Spaniards, a peace which was to be short-lived.[5]

The hospitality and friendly treatment that the Spaniards received from Agüeybaná made it easy for the Spaniards to betray and conquer the island.[5] After a short period of peace, the Taínos were forced to work in the island's gold mines and in the construction of forts as slaves. Many Taínos died as a result of the cruel treatment which they received.[5]

Death and aftermath

Upon Agüeybaná's death in 1510, his brother[1][2][3] Güeybaná (better known as Agüeybaná II) became the most powerful Cacique in the island. Agüeybaná II was troubled by the treatment of his people by the Spanish and attacked them in battle. The Taínos were ultimately defeated at the Battle of Yagüecas.[7]

After this, Taínos in Puerto Rico either abandoned the island, were forced to labor as slaves, or were killed by the Spaniards.[8] Many succumbed to the smallpox epidemic that attacked the islanders in 1519.[5][9]


Agüeybaná is admired in Puerto Rico for his dedication to his people and attempting to keep the peace. 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.[10]

Many songs and poems, by poets such as Juan Antonio Corretjer, among others, have been written about Agüeybaná.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 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.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Land Tenure Development in Puerto Rico. 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.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Puerto Rico y su historia investigaciones críticas. F. Vives Mora. 1894. p. 64.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Land Tenure Development in Puerto Rico Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Cacique" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Cacique" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Cacique" defined multiple times with different content
  6. Agueybana
  7. "A Historical Overview of Colonial Puerto Rico: The Importance of San Juan as a Military Outpost". Retrieved 2009-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Genocide program, Puerto Rico". Yale. Archived from the original on 20 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Puerto Rico's First People
  10. Reference to the "Agüeybaná de Oro"

External links