THE PROFILE OF A CONQUEROR

Hernando Cortes beat many obstacles to conquer Mexico. The biggest one probably being the antipathy of Diego de Velazquez towards him , who had decided that the Mexican conquistador, should have been Vasco Porcallo de Figueroa.

Cortes arrived to America in 1504 and immediately assured to the secretary of the governor of Santo Domingo, that he wasn’t a colonizer. When they granted him a small lot and distribution of Indians, he replied “ Its just that I come to seek the glory for Spain and myself and not to farm the land like a rustic person”, not even a title of Notary of the New Born Nation, satisfied him.

In 1511, when Diego de Velazquez decided to win the island of Cuba for the Spanish colony. Cortes added himself to the expedition sure that for him, the moment of glory was about to start. For his brilliant participation in the invasion, his sincere and open treatment towards the people along with his spicy jokes made him win the friendship of his comrades and occupied the position of secretary of Velazquez, who in that moment had been named governor of Cuba, the differences among the secretary and the governor started when Cortes refused to fulfill his promise to Catalina one of the four beautiful sisters Suarez Macaidas. Cortes had promised her marriage and even assured that he had obtained certain favors from her.

The storytellers say that the governor in loving terms with one of Catalina’s sisters mistreated Cortes publicly once, the frictions between both of them kept on going, when Cortes united to the enemies of the governor that complained about him to the authorities of Santo Domingo. He was willing to be the head of the protesters but Velazquez found out about the conspiracy and Velazquez, with double reason send him to prison and asked for asylum in a nearby church. One day that he adventured out of his shelter, Juan Escudero, the sheriff apprehended him. Years later in the New Spain, Cortes would try and strangle him. Next morning they sent him chained up in a shipment to the island of La Española.

Once again Cortes made grace to his untamed nature, he managed to unchain himself and go back swimming to the island to shelter himself in the same church. This time he agreed to marry Macaida, which was what they called Catalina, and with this the problems were temporarily solved. He even asked Velzquez to be his son’s godfather which made the bond stronger. He didn’t get his job as a secretary back but he obtained the protection of the governor, better lands and a great distribution of Indians and in the occidental extreme of the island, close to Santiago de Cuba, after which, he would be named mayor and introduced for the first time in Cuba cattle for farming. In a few years he earned a great fortune and became a peaceful colonizer.

Nonetheless his conqueror spirit returned in an impetuous way when Velazquez proposed to him that he would take charge of a third expedition heading to Mexico. The recommendations of Andres Duero and Amador de Lares, secretary and accountant of the government made the man from the extreme of the colony seem as ideal person for the expedition. Velazquez revealed with some reticence the desire to name him General Captain of the army that was supposed to continue the discoveries of Grijalva, another conquistador, even though a great majority of the expenses of the campaign ran on his account, Cortes hurried himself to pawn his possessions and obtain debts with the purpose of having enough supplies for the voyage since he was certain his big chance had come. He received instructions and on October 23, 1518, he should depart in the search of Grijalva that had taken longer than Alvarado and try to find and rescue a half dozen of Spaniards who were prisoners of the Indians of Yucatan. He should be limited to travel through the coasts and to take note of the natural resources of the country and of the customs and races of who inhabited in it. At all times, the royal dispositions should have been met and never to forget about following the law of God. Nonetheless the visionary from the extreme of the colony was starting to see his dreams of a major enterprise come true.

Meanwhile Cortes hurried himself in the preparation of his ships, Velazquez changed his mind after hearing the advice of some relatives and friends; he decided to name Vasco Porcallo de Figueroa instead of Cortes as captain of the army. Alares and Aduero found out, they hurried themselves to warn Cortes that he should depart with no further delay and that made him leave from Santiago with the float half prepared.

Velazquez sent somebody to go after and reach Cortes in the mid- extreme of the island of Cuba in the Port of Trinity. There the emissaries of the governor arrived with the orders to arrest Cortes and give the head of the army to Vasco Porcallo de Figueroa relative of the Count of Feria. In a movie-like persecution in the Caribbean, Velazquez sent his men again so they could arrest Cortes and followed his instructions about Porcallo. Cortes didn’t get frightened, not even by the fact that some of the people that accompanied him were friends and relatives of Velazquez. Nothing and nobody was able to stop him. He knew how to dodge the obstacles that were presented to him on his way to gain the power of what promised to be an empire according to the Indians of Yucatan.

Finally with the motto “Friends, Let’s follow the cross that having faith in this signal, we will conquer the empire or we will die in the attempt.” Even though the trip wasn’t officially recognized, Cortes departed with his army of eleven caravels and with 673 Spaniards useful for the war. He departed from the Cape of San Antonio with invariable route to Yucatan and he arrived to Veracruz on February 18 1519.

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