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Caribbean Peoples

Response to
Oppression and
Genocide:
PRE-COLUMBIAN TIMES TO THE IMMEDIATE POSTEMANCIPATION PERIOD

Focus Points
Definition of Key Terms
Oppression and Resistance in Pre-columbian times
Oppression and Resistance under Encomienda
Blacks Resistance to Slavery- The Haitian Revolution
The Peasantry
Indentured Labourers

What is oppression?

Definition of Key Terms


Genocide: the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of
a particular nation or ethnic group.
Resistance: efforts made to stop or fight against something or someone;
demonstrating opposition to something.
Insurrectionary Resistance: anactorinstanceofviolent uprisingagainst
civilauthorityoranestablishedgovernment.
Non-insurrectionary Resistance: non-violent, usually individual actions
against oppression.

Definition of Key Terms


Revolution: a sudden, radical, or complete change, often accompanied by
violence; an overthrow and thorough replacement of an established
government or political system by the people governed resulting in a
pervasive change in society and the social structure.
Peasantry: a social class constituted by small farmers and tenants,
sharecroppers, and laborers on the land where they form the main labor force
in agriculture.
Marronage: a strategy of resistance in which individuals and small groups ran
away from the source of oppression.

Oppression and Resistance


before 1492
During the pre-Columbian era the Kalinagos were a source of oppression for the Tainos.
Known for their warlike nature, they were diligent in creating weapons and utilizing
strategies that wreaked havoc in the Tainos lives.
Kalinagos raided Taino villages and enslaved their women folk.
The Taino resisted with bows and arrows, spears and the infamous macana a stout
wooden sword club which was feared by their oppressors because of its skull-crushing
potential.
Because the Kalinagos were more ruthless and skilled in war, they were often the victors
and the Tainos resisted by moving out of the Lesser Antilles into the larger Antillean
islands.

"I found very many islands filled with people without number, and

all of them I have taken possession for their Highnesses...As soon


as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took
some of the natives by force in order that they mightlearn and
might give me information on whatever there is in these parts"
"They...brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many

other things... They would make fine servants... With fiftymen we


could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.
Christopher Columbus

Oppression and Resistance


under Encomienda
In furthering their imperialist ambitions the Spanish established settlements in
the indigenes homeland.
The coming of the Europeans with their weapons of iron and steel and their
tracker dogs and horses, was an unprecedented experience for the native
peoples (Mohammed 2015).
In fact Dyde, Greenwood and Hamber (2008) argue that the term genocide is
suitable in describing the Spanish treatment of the Taino. They estimate that
some 300,000 people were believed to live in Hispaniola in 1492. By 1548
only 500 remained.

Oppression and Resistance


under Encomienda
The Spaniards efforts to settle these colonies were met with resistance from both
Tainos and Kalinagos alike.
Beckles and Shepherd (2004) quote historian G.K. Lewis who argues that the Taino
and Kalinago had built a civilization and a homeland, which they were prepared to
defend in a spirit of defiant patriotism.

Both non-insurrectionary and insurrectionary forms of resistance were utilized as the


indigenes defended their homelands.

Oppression and Resistance


under Encomienda
Non-insurrectionary Forms of Resistance:
refusal to work/malingering
suicide (hanging, poisoning)
infanticide
pretence (deafness, lack of understanding of oppressors instructions)
marronage (hiding in caves and mountains)

Oppression and Resistance


under Encomienda

Beckles and Shepherd (2004) state that there was constant tension and the
encomenderos had deep fears because the Tainos continuously resisted
enslavement

Oppression and Resistance under


Encomienda
The first form of insurrectionary resistance documented in Caribbean
historiography is the destruction of Fort Navidad after Columbus return to
Spain in 1492.

"bad feeling had arisen and had broken out in warfare because
of the licentious conduct of our men towardsthe Indian women,
for each Spaniard had five women to minister to his pleasure.
Guillermo Coma

Oppression and Resistance


under Encomienda
When Columbus returned to Hispaniola in 1493, he found that the thirty men
he had left on La Navidad were all dead, killed by the Indiansafter they had
invaded the kingdom of Maguana governed by the fearless cacique Caonabo.
The rape of their women, theft of their property as well as anawareness that
the Spaniards sought to colonize their homeland were the main reasons that
influenced insurrection among the Tainos.

Oppression and Resistance


under Encomienda
Mohammed (2015) outlines that although the Spanish had superior military might,
conquest of the indigenes homeland was challenging.
The Tainos fought costly, long wars of resistance, even though they had limited
technical capabilities.
The Spaniards had crushed most of the indigenes efforts to resist colonization and
enslavement by 1503 but as Mohammed argues this represented a comparatively
long struggle given their advantage of more advanced weapons technology.

Insurrectionary Forms of Resistance:

destroying of crops
poisoning water supplies
burning storehouses
forcing Spaniards to seek food in the hinterlands and ambushing them
forming alliances with the Kalinagos and waging war against the Spanish

Oppression and Resistance under


Encomienda
1494 cacique Guacanagari fought against Columbus and 400 men as they
encroached on the interior of Hispaniola.
1511 Hautey leads armed resistance against Spaniards.
The settlement of Puerto Rico was not successful until 1513 as Ponce de
Leons settlement party was frequently attacked by Taino rebels.
In 1520 Spaniards were still fighting a guerilla war in Cuba

Oppression and Resistance under


Encomienda
The Kalinagos resisted the Spanish and other Europeans through:
1. guerilla warfare (a form of irregularwarfarein which a small group of
combatants use military tactics including ambushes, sabotage, raids, hitand-run tactics, and mobility to fight a larger and less-mobile traditional
military).
2. being highly mobile and eluding capture in canoes on numerous occasions.
3. forming alliances with one set of Europeans against others.

Oppression and Resistance


under Encomienda

The Kalinagos were unrelenting in their resistance against European


domination. In the end Europeans signed treaties with them which ensured
their survival into contemporary times.

Blacks Resistance to Slavery


Non-insurrectionary methods:
malingering
pretending to misunderstand instructions
suicide
infanticide
abortions
marronage

Blacks Resistance to Slavery


women capitalized on issues associated with their femininity- a) exaggerating
female complaints b) prolonging the period of gestation, sometimes opting to
breastfeed babies for as long as two years.
huckstering
amputated their bodies
syncretic religious practices & use of African words( bafan, poto-poto , dopi, juk)
mimicking European masters through song and dance
marronage

Blacks Resistance to Slavery


Insurrectionary Methods:
destruction of property (maiming of animals, damage to machine, burning
of fields)
murder (killing overseers)

Blacks Resistance to Slavery


Revolts/ Rebellions
Maroon Wars
1831 Christmas/Sam Sharpe Rebellion
Berbice Revolt
Bussa Revolt
Bush Negro Uprising
Tacky Rebellion
Guadeloupe Blow-Up

Blacks Resistance to Slavery


Few enslaved blacks were able to purchase their freedom .

The Haitian
Revolution
1791-1804

The Haitian Revolution


(1791-1804)

The most successful slave revolt in


history!

The Haitian Revolution


(1791-1804)
Haiti (Saint Dominque) was the world's leading sugar producer. Known as the
Pearl of the Indies the French colony had over 800 sugar plantations and
made more profit than all 13 American colonies combined.
The whites which totaled 6% of the population owned the means of
production and amassed huge profits from sugar while the enslaved blacks
which formed 90% were exploited under a brutal system of slavery.

The Haitian Revolution


(1791-1804)
When the French Revolution began, white settlers on Haiti called for
independence.
Boukman Dutty, a black enslaved Haitian called on his fellow enslaved to
have their own revolution!
In 1791, about 100,000 slaves rose in revolt. They burned sugarcane fields
and killed planters. The uprising formed the impetus for 13 years of civil war
in which both sides suffered massacres.

The Haitian Revolution


(1791-1804)
Toussaint LOuverture, a freed, educated black wanted to end slavery and
gain independence for Haiti.
He rallied the enslaved peoples to revolt in 1791 led armies against the
French, Spanish and British.
By 1801, he took control of the territory, freed the enslaved and created a
constitution.
In 1802 Toussaint was captured and French domination and slavery was
reinstated in Haiti.

The Haitian Revolution


(1791-1804)
In overthrowing me, you have done no more than cut down the
trunk of the tree of the black liberty in St. Domingue - it will spring
back from the roots, for they are numerous and deep.

Toussaint LOuverture

The Haitian Revolution


(1791-1804)
The taste of freedom that Toussaint had given the blacks caused them to
continue to fight the French.
Led by General Dessalines, the Haitian army fought a brutal war against the
French army.
Haiti became the first and only black colony to free itself from European
domination.
On January 1, 1804 Jean Jacques Dessalines proclaimed Haitian
independence.

The Peasantry as Resistance


The development of a peasant class in the Caribbean is linked to the
abolition of slavery. In fact peasantry in the region dates back to 1838.
The peasantry existed in opposition to and in competition with the plantation
despite their interdependence.
Historically peasants in the Caribbean existed on the crevices of society
any area where the main economic activities of the Europeans did not have
control.

The Peasantry as Resistance


According to Marshall, Caribbean peasantries incorporated non-agricultural
activities such as fishing, shop keeping, and casual estate work.
Caribbean peasantries have always involved the production of goods
subsistence and for sale in local and international markets.

The Peasantry as Resistance


Enhanced money and time management skills. Engendered self-reliance,
planning and political awareness among ex-slaves. Maintaining social and
economic stability in rural and non-plantation areas via attempts to build selfgenerating communities, villages, churches, schools.
Added to the establishment of the local cooperatives movement and P.C.
Banks
Added to the export and trade of Caribbean countries via the diversification
of agricultural produce.

Resistance by Indentured
Labourers
Indentured labourers resisted by:
protesting
running away
refusing to work
establishing small businesses