Yaureibo y Cacimar
On Vieques, the Taino people lived in peace and in harmony with the environment for some 1200 years, until the end of the 15th century when confronted with the arrival of a new people from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, the Europeans.
Quisqueya (today named the Dominican Republic) was the first island to be conquered by the invaders from the east.
Boriquén (Puerto Rico) was next.
The conquest and subsequent subjugation of the Taino were unbelievably cruel.
Hundreds of Tainos who lived on the eastern part of Boriquén managed to escape making their way to the nearby Bieké (Vieques), which was as yet unconquered and under the control of two Taino caciques (chiefs), the brothers, Yaureibo and Cacimar.
Between 1511 and 1514 the Tainos from Bieké joined the newly arrived refugees in a series of retaliatory raids against the conquerors of Boriquén, a light-skinned people who called themselves Spaniards or Christians.
As a result of the raids more soldiers were stationed in the eastern zone and fortification and defensive measures were undertaken. One of these soldiers, Sancho de Arango, was the owner of a ferocious dog named Becerrillo (The Little Bull), an animal especially trained to kill human beings.
In 1514, Cacimar led an attack against a Spanish settlement in eastern Boriquén. During the battle, he was run through with a lance from behind as he engaged in hand to hand combat with a Spanish soldier.
Yaureibo, angered by the dishonorable nature of his brothers death, launched a second attack on the settlement. In the battle that ensued, several Spaniards were killed, and many others were wounded. Sancho de Arango, the owner of Becerrillo, was wounded in the battle and taken prisoner along with several of his men.
Becerrillo had been fighting along with the soldiers, but when he saw that his master had been wounded, he furiously attacked the party of warriors who were carrying him away along with several other Spanish captives. So fierce was the beast’s attack, that it caused panic among the warriors who rapidly retreated to the banks of a nearby river crossing it in all haste. In the confusion of the retreat, several of the captives managed to escape. A warrior, who had crossed to the other side of the river, managed to kill Becerrillo, piercing him with a poisoned arrow.
It was the loss of the dog, rather than the loss of Spanish lives, that prompted the Spanish to send a large and well armed force of men to Vieques in order to punish the people there. Yaureibo and his warriors fought valiently, holding off the Spanish for an entire night, but in the end the Spaniards with their superior weaponry emerged victorious. Yaureibo was killed as were many of his people. The survivors were captured and sent to Puerto Rico, where they were enslaved.
With the defeat of Yaureibo and Cacimar the era of Viequense self determination came to an end and the people of Vieques became pawns in a game of colonialism that some feel continues to this very day.