Stories about cocoa navigating the Zulia River - 1630

Stories about cocoa navigating the Zulia River - 1630

  • 19 April, 2024
  • Somos Cacao

Since the arrival of the first conquerors to Pamplona like Ambrosio Alfinger, the famous "Pacifications" began, which sought to reduce indigenous groups to Christian doctrines and thereby liberate the territory from their presence. These native communities were hunter-gatherers, meaning they had immense jungle to hunt and gather the fruits of the land, therefore, they were prepared to defend their territory with spears, bows, and poisoned arrows, which made the conquest and subsequent Western colonization difficult. In the territory between the Province of Pamplona and Lake Maracaibo, there were various indigenous groups that dominated the territory, among them The Motilones who retained control of the banks of the Zulia River for more than fifty years after the conquest, which were gradually reduced and taken to various places to indoctrinate them including the city of Trujillo de Barinas.

Due to these pacifications, by 1627 the encomenderos Cristóbal de Araque Ponce de León and Juan de Araque were already freely navigating the Zulia River. However, by 1630, there was an approximate group of 15 Quiriquires Indians at the mouths of Lake Maracaibo who rebelled against the Christian doctrine and controlled the entrance to Lake Maracaibo, which is why another expedition was organized to subdue them, according to the language of the Spaniards the Indians "made war", hence the term "Pacification". In this case, the aim was to free the Zulia River from their presence and thereby connect the Province of Pamplona to the Government of El Espíritu Santo de la Grita and the Port of Gibraltar on Lake Maracaibo, since by then the production of cocoa in Maracaibo was abundant and already exported to Europe. The Zulia River was the route through which goods arriving from Europe such as clothing from Castile and wine were transported in canoes and rafts, and other products such as iron, salt, oil, steel, and soap also circulated through this river corridor.

Likewise, the production of flour, sugar, tobacco, and biscuits from the Province of Pamplona, La Grita, and the Villa de San Cristóbal was taken to Maracaibo for the annual fairs held in the square of this city. Freeing the Zulia River would favor the initiation of cocoa cultivation in the Cúcuta valley, thanks to the climate and fertile lands, cocoa was planted along the riverbanks for water supply. The colonists, with their rent-seeking gaze, saw in this environment of the Cúcuta valley a favorable place for the creation of cocoa haciendas supported by slave labor brought from Africa.

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