Nicolás de Ovando

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Nicolás de Ovando.
Nicolás de Ovando (1460 Valladolid, Spain – May 29, 1518 Madrid, Spain) was a Spanish soldier and member of a noble family. Ovando was a knight of the Order of Alcántara. He was one of the first governors of colonized Hispaniola from 1502 until 1509.

Ovando's rule of Hispaniola

Ovando arrived in the colony on April 15, 1502 with a fleet of thirty ships, the largest that had set sail for the new world up to that point, and made landfall in the Caribbean with about 2,500 people.

Governor Ovando was one of the people responsible for the genocide of the native inhabitants. In 1492 when Spanish colonizers made first contact, there was a Taíno population estimated at around 500,000 by some accounts as high as one million, in 1507 this number had dwindled so much, that Spanish census takers estimated that about 60,000 of the natives were still alive. (Parkinson, p. xii) Ovando is generally described as having been very cruel towards the natives.

In 1509 he was succeeded as the Governor by Diego Colón, a son of Christopher Columbus.

The execution of Anacaona

In 1502 the Spanish Governor Nicolás de Ovando, who had arrived in the colony that same year, ordered the arrest of Anacaona, who was captured by deceit after Ovando had sent several hundred soldiers. Anacaona a Taíno queen, was then executed by hanging in the town of Santo Domingo in the year 1503. The survivors of the 1502 massacre at the court of Anacaona, during which she was captured, fled to the island of La Gonâve. (Arawak: Guanabo or Guanarana).

Establishing slavery

After initial attempts to enslave natives fell short of the economic goals, for example due to the high death rates, in 1501 Nicolás de Ovando was the first to bring African slaves to the Americas.

Nicolás de Ovando today

In stark contrast to Haiti, where statues of colonizers have been razed (see: Christopher Columbus), there are monuments to Ovando in the Dominican Republic. In Santo-Domingo (the capital) there is also a hotel (Sofitel) and an avenue named after this cruel ruler of the early European conquest of the Antilles.


See also

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