Renato Beluche (15 December 1780 – 4 October 1860) was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and died in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela. He was a Venezuelan merchant and privateer who played many roles in the turbulent world of the 19th-century Caribbean including that of merchant sea captain as well as being a successful privateer. With Luis Brion, he was Simon Bolivar’s favorite admiral as well as an active partner in the affairs of the Lafitte brothers. He fought both as a revolutionary and as a defender against revolt, and was regarded as a patriot in the eyes of eight American nations, although England and France considered him a brigand.
Renato Beluche was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1780. The location of the house he was born in is now a State owned Museum (a later house, on the same property, built in 1788) referred to as "Madame John's Legacy". The original building was erected in 1725 and sold to René Beluche (Renato's Father) about 1777. The son of a recently emigrated Frenchman whose wig-making business was a front for smuggling, he lived on the family's Chalmette plantation. In 1802 Beluche went to sea as a pilot’s mate on the flagship of the Spanish fleet, and by 1805 he was master of a merchant schooner. By this time, the Laffite brothers had established a smuggling base at Grande Terre on the Louisiana coast. Flying the French flag, Beluche captured Spanish and English ships and sent them to Grande-Terre, Cartagena de Indias, and New Granada. There is evidence that Beluche may have used the alias Pierre (or Pedro) Brugman, though it appears that this may have been an associate - or at least a convenient look-alike.
Battle of New Orleans
In 1813, Beluche became associated with the Venezuelan patriots who were rebelling against Spanish rule, and with their leader, Simon Bolivar. Beluche would spend the next decade in the service of the Venezuelan revolution, interrupted only by a brief period when he joined with Jean Lafitte and the Baratarian smugglers who had come to the aid of General Andrew Jackson during the British invasion of the Gulf Coast.
After serving as an artillery commander beside Dominique You in the Battle of New Orleans, Beluche was drawn back into the liberation of Venezuela. He participated in the Aux Cayes Expedition, the Battle of Lake Maracaibo, and the Siege of Puerto Cabello. In 1824, Beluche settled his family in Puerto Cabello, and after independence was finally won, he worked as a coastal shipping captain. In 1836 Beluche fought on the losing side of a rebellion against the Venezuelan government and was exiled for nine years. He returned in 1845 and helped crush another revolt that raged from 1848 until 1850.
For the next decade he led an uncharacteristically quiet existence, and died peacefully in Puerto Cabello in 1860. Renato Beluche’s vigorous career on the sea had taken him to nearly every corner of the Caribbean; he had lived a life intertwined with the history of his world. Later, his remains were re-interred in the National Pantheon of Venezuela on 22 July 1963.
- Battle of New Orleans
- Dominique Youx
- Jean Lafitte
- Pierre Lafitte
- Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, New Orleans
- Letter of marque
- "Pauline's Pirates & Privateers: History: For Beluche's Birthday". paulinespiratesandprivateers.blogspot.ca. Retrieved 2015-12-15.
- Jane Lucas De Grummond (1 March 1999). Renato Beluche: Smuggler, Privateer and Patriot 1780-1860. LSU Press. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-8071-2459-8.