5. Vanquish the Arrogance of Our Enemies: Emancipation Rumors and Rebellious Royalism
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∑ Vanquish the Arrogance of Our Enemies Emancipation Rumors and Rebellious Royalism And the executions continued for months. The hangman’s list did not end with the leader José Antonio Aponte, the Frenchman Juan Barbier, the slave Tiburcio Peñalver, the free black Juan Bautista Lisundia, the black militiaman Clemente Chacón, the cabildo leader Salvador Ternero, and the mulatto Estanislao Aguilar. The executioner added free black Francisco Javier Pacheco’s name to his deadly list. A Creole born in Havana who lived in the Salud neighborhood outside the city walls, Pacheco earned his living by working as a carpenter specializing in the repair of carriages. He also served as a volunteer militiaman in the black battalion of Havana.∞ Pacheco had been on the plantations at the time of the rebellions in March but eluded arrest until military authorities finally captured him on 7 May when he recklessly returned to Havana.≤ After several days of questioning during May and June, Rendón sentenced Pacheco to death by hanging.≥ As with the slave Tiburcio Peñalver, mentioned in chapter 2, colonial o≈cials postponed Pacheco’s sentence until October to stage a collective execution of several conspirators. Early in the morning at 6:20 a.m. on 23 October 1812, an armed regiment of professional soldiers and volunteer militiamen escorted Pacheco and three others to La Punta military fort on the western side of Havana Bay. Captain General Apodaca reported that the crowd ‘‘applauded the gesticulations’’ of Pacheco and the other rebels during their last earthly moments as they dangled from the end of ropes.∂ The bodies were left hanging for nearly nine hours until at three in the afternoon, the Brotherhood of Charity removed them.∑ Afterward , the executioner severed Pacheco’s head, a≈xed it to a pike, and placed it at the entrance to his neighborhood outside the city walls to serve as a grim warning for all to see.∏ 156 Vanquish the Arrogance Pacheco had close associations with many of his fellow rebels. He informed authorities that he had ‘‘known Aponte ever since he was a small boy because he learned his [carpentry] trade with him as an apprentice.’’π Pacheco often visited Aponte’s house and like many others had seen Aponte’s book of drawings.∫ He also knew Clemente Chacón, testifying he visited ‘‘his house three times to eat lunch.’’Ω Authorities believed Pacheco and Juan Barbier organized the insurrection during several meetings at Chacón’s tavern.∞≠ The slave Antonio Cao from Peñas-Altas informed o≈cials that he met Pacheco at Aponte’s house when they planned the rebellion.∞∞ Pacheco’s connections with the important leaders of the Aponte Rebellion only further contributed to his guilt in the minds of colonial o≈cials investigating the movement. The crucial evidence for Pacheco’s role as a leader of the movement related to a political manifesto tacked to the captain general’s home on 15 March 1812, proclaiming independence, and attributed to his handwriting. Several people stated Pacheco had transcribed the proclamation from dictation by Aponte. The powerful message of the declaration stated in no uncertain terms that the revolution was on: ‘‘At the sound of a drum and a trumpet you will find us ready and fearless to end this empire of tyranny, and in this manner we will vanquish the arrogance of our enemies.’’∞≤ The bold action of nailing the manifesto to the captain general’s house o√ered not merely an explicit warning to the colonial state of their intentions but a call to arms for their followers. Although not a formal political document composed by a congress or a junta, it should be regarded as a declaration for Cuban independence (if not Cuba’s first). As explained in the previous chapter, slaves and free people of color denounced the movement in Havana on 10 March. Placing the declaration of independence on the residence of the highest-ranking Spanish o≈cial in Cuba sent a clear message to their partisans of a steadfast conviction to follow through with their plans for insurrection. The Havana town council petitioned Someruelos to conduct an immediate investigation when they met two days later in the exact same building where the rebels had posted their insurrectionary declaration. The town council recognized that ‘‘the revolution,’’ as they referred to the movement, was well planned, as seen ‘‘by what happened to the door of this house on the fifteenth .’’ According to the Havana town council, the manifesto indicated an intent to...


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