Gonzalo Guerrero is remembered as the father of miscegenation, he admired the pre-Hispanic peoples, became a warrior and died fighting against the Spanish led by Pedro de Alvarado, another key bishop in the conquest.
Before the arrival of Hernán Cortés in Mexico, there were already Spaniards living in the territory, it has been documented that some came to steal indigenous people to use them as slaves and take them to Cuba, in addition to other regions, however, others were shipwrecked, such as Gonzalo Guerrero, whom historians place as “father of miscegenation”, this is his fascinating story of how he fell in love with the country and died defending it.
Gonzalo Guerrero (also called Gonzalo de Aroca and Gonzalo de Aroza), was a sailor, he and his crew were heading on a trip to the Darien when they were shipwrecked due to a strong storm that irreparably damaged their boat, it is estimated that it would have been between 1511 and 1512.
Several of the crew died, the currents dragged the survivors to the north of the Yucatan peninsula, perhaps in what is now Holbox. As soon as they touched land, they were approached by a group of Mayan warriors.
The castaways were arrested, Captain Juan de Valdivia died before the resistance, only Jerónimo de Aguilar and Gonzalo Guerrero managed to escape from captivity. They walked through the Yucatecan jungle until, in Xman Há (Playa del Cármen), they were recaptured and enslaved.
While Jerónimo de Aguilar remained faithful to his culture and religion (later he was a key interpreter of Hernán Cortes in the conquest of Mexico), Guerrero adapted to integrate into the Mayan culture. He participated in confrontations with enemy peoples and stood out among them for his cunning and military skills.
When Gonzalo lived as a slave, the Mayan chief Taxmar claimed him, since he had a good reputation as a great military strategist, and taught them new formations of attack and defense. He made him rehearse attack cadres and defense formations that allowed him to relieve the soldiers , generating in the war against the Cocomes (an extremely violent community), giving victory to the army of Chief Taxmar.
Shortly after, due to his status as a slave, the chief Na Cha Can gave him to Nacom Balam (warrior chief).
One day Nacom Balam crossed a river and was attacked by an alligator and, instead of taking the opportunity to escape, Guerrero fought against the alligator and killed it . Seeing this, Nacom Balam granted him freedom.
Once free , Guerrero wanted to do the tattoos and piercings (ears, nose and lower lip) typical of his military rank. He always led his wars to victory , reached the rank of Nacom Balam and married Princess Zazil Ha (also called Ix Chel Can).
The respected historian Eduardo Matos Moctezuma has recalled in conversations, when in 1519 Hernán Cortés arrived on the island of Cozumel, in the Yucatan peninsula, he learned that in those lands there were several Spanish castaways , members of previous expeditions, who had been taken prisoner by the Mayans.
He then arranged for them to be searched and rescued to join his expedition; That is how one of those castaways, Jerónimo de Aguilar, learned of Cortés’s arrival and went to another town in search of Gonzalo Guerrero , born in Palos, to bring him the pleasant news.
What a surprise Aguilar must have been, because before the news that Spanish ships were waiting for them in Cozumel, Guerrero responded with these words, which have been recorded in history and which come to us thanks to Bernal Díaz del Castillo, who recounts them in his True story of the conquest of New Spain:
“ Brother Aguilar, I am married with three children, and consider me a chief and captain when there are wars. Go with God, I have carved my face and my ears pierced. What will they say about me when those Spaniards see me this way? And you see these my children how beautiful they are ”.
Gonzalo Guerrero’s wife was not far behind and rebuked Jerónimo:
Look at what this slave is coming with to call my husband; yourselves and don’t heal from more talks ”. Aguilar spoke to Gonzalo again, let him see that he was a Christian, that for an Indian woman he did not lose his soul, and if he did so for wife and children, let him take them with him if he did not want to leave them. And no matter how much he told him and admonished him, he did not want to come ”.
This episode, assures Matos Moctezuma, shows us that Zazil Ha, Guerrero’s wife understood perfectly Spanish, so she was offended that they called her an Indian and tried to take the father of her three children from her side , so she answered her herself to Aguilar.
In addition, it shows us that Zazil Ha maintained an egalitarian hierarchy with her husband, something that was not at all common at the time in any culture, since women were relegated to accompaniment.
He refused to return with several Spanish expeditions, and supported during the fighting to expel Grijalva, Francisco Hernández de Córdoba (1517) and Cortés (1518). During the following years, the Spanish estimated that Guerrero dedicated himself to training the Mayans to defend their territory, because when Francisco de Montejo, in May 1527, crossed the Atlantic with 380 soldiers in four ships, he encountered serious difficulties in conquering Yucatán.
He fought the conquerors Montejo (father and son) and their captain Dávila. He instructed his warriors how to confront foreigners, always advising not to give up or trust the whites, trying to protect his territory, today a natural park, of Champotón.
He had to choose between his Spanish compatriots and the Mayans, who had welcomed, agreed and recognized him . As Carlos Villa Roiz said in his book Gonzalo Guerrero. Forgotten memory, his homeland was not the land in which he was born, but the one for which he fought.