1 comment December 10th, 2008 Headsman
On this date in 1796, insurrectionary Jose Leonardo Chirino was hanged in Caracas for leading a slave revolt in Spain’s oppressive New World sugar plantations.
Nearly all the information readily available online about Chirino is in Spanish, and all the links in this post are to Spanish pages.
The influence of the Haitian Revolution, and the philosophical precepts of the French Revolution that had helped spawn it, sent waves through the Caribbean washing up on every shore it touched.
Most of those lands had a ready audience under the lash of European colonial masters; the eastern Venezuelan city of Coro, home to the sugar aristocracy and the groaning underclass that crop implied, must have had one of the readiest.
On May 10, 1795, Chirino — a Zambo of mixed African and Amerindian blood who was himself a free farmer — led an uprising of the Congolese slaves in the area who worked the sugarcane and declared a Republic under the “Law of the French,” with slavery and white privilege abolished.
The rebellion’s attempt on Coro itself failed, and it was swiftly put down by the colonial authorities. Though many involved were killed summarily, the Spanish took their sweet time after capturing Chirino in August 1795: only the following year was he transferred to Caracas for execution, after which his body was dismembered and his head set in an iron cage displayed on the road to Coro. (For good measure, they sold his family into slavery.)
(Video from here)
Of course, Chirino was on the right side of history. The city square in Caracas where Chirino hung is now Plaza Bolivar, named for Latin America’s eponymous liberator.
Coro itself is today served by Jose Leonardo Chirino airport, and for the African diaspora in Venezuela, Chirino is a special inspiration.
Like any worthwhile symbol, he’s also contested territory — claimed as a forerunner (if a questionable one) of socialism by the “Bolivarian Republic” now governed by Hugo Chavez.
On this day..
- 1916: Eric Poole, the first British officer shot at dawn during World War I - 2016
- 1919: Not Joseph Cohen - 2015
- 1965: Andrew Pixley - 2014
- 1875: William Wilson, taking the priest with him - 2013
- 1900: John Filip Nordlund, Mälarmördaren - 2012
- 1852: Jose Forni, the first legal hanging in California - 2011
- 1718: Stede Bonnet, gentleman pirate - 2010
- 1541: Thomas Culpeper and Francis Dereham, the Queen's lovers - 2009
- 1937: Teido Kunizaki - 2007
Entry Filed under: 18th Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,Famous,Guerrillas,Hanged,History,Occupation and Colonialism,Power,Public Executions,Racial and Ethnic Minorities,Revolutionaries,Slaves,Soldiers,Treason,Venezuela