Archive for December 10th, 2008

1796: Jose Leonardo Chirino, Venezuelan slave revolt leader

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.

Forcibly.

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.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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..

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


Calendar

Archives

Categories

Execution Playing Cards

Exclusively available on this site: our one-of-a-kind custom playing card deck.

Every card features a historical execution from England, France, Germany, or Russia!


Recent Comments

  • Meaghan: I wish I could get him named as a Righteous Gentile.
  • Gillian Gill: Jarzyna sounded like an incredibly brave, and kind hearted man. He knew exactly how serious the risks...
  • Klolinda Minda: He was 19 years old – old enough to know better. Baiting people to rob them for them money, but...
  • Petru: 400 yards away? Damn, that is a real sharpshooting!
  • mel: It’s hard to find anything about Pierpont that doesn’t focus more on Dillinger. I get that Dillinger...