Jose Angel Manaiza Jr
11 min readDec 28, 2023



Power tells the story

The history of the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean has records written by those who visited it for the first time and, in any case, they are wrapped in a tangle of fiction, often distorted and full of great prejudices, imitating the absurd example of the European vision of the natives of the Americas. This Eurocentric rationality denies the past of these peoples, because in that vision, Europeans appear as saviours to impose their creed, language and culture on the indigenous natives.

The European narrators testified the events they observed from the scene of power on Yurumein Island, which allowed them to be in the position of the victor because in turn they responded to the Government that sponsored them; In any case they were employees and subordinated to their interests.

And its narrative was oriented to these interests above the version of the truth of the native Antilleans, whose prominence is never manifested in this episode. In this context, the role played by the first travellers who had contact with the Antillean natives, in the case of the R.P. Labat, another French missionary, who visited the island of Saint Vincent in September 1700, called it the Center de la Repúblique Du Caribe (Centre of the Caribbean Republic) “in addition to the wild Indians, this island is populated by a very large number of blacks, I do not know what led the Caribbean Indian to welcome them among themselves and consider them as if they were one of the same people (Labat, 1722, p. 442).

The expression Black Carib was coined to refer to the Garinagu, a native community of the island of San Vicente, they were named this way with the aim of justifying their destruction and keeping their lands, this term appears for the first time in the 18th century. In the reports of one of the ten most influential bureaucrats, the British William Young, who arrived in Saint Vincent in 1767, appointed governor of the island of Saint Vincent by the English crown (Castillo, 2020). William Young noted that — “during the year 1740 before the English occupation, the island was inhabited by about three thousand Kalinago or Blacks Caribs, they were also called free blacks, there were one hundred red or yellow Caribs, there were probably between 800 to 1000 French settlers on the island during the exchange of power” — (Young, 1795 p.18).

The origin of the Garinagu of Saint Vincent has been controversial, the ancient archives present approximations and many conjectures from the perspective of their own interests, while contemporary authors who defend Eurocentrism fight for the colonial narrative to prevail in relation to the origin of the Garinagu (Castillo, 2021).

On the other hand, some historians with a progressive tendency debate the various theses put forward and call for a rethinking of the historical phenomenon of the Garinagu, starting from the premise “that the history that floods the collective imagination was with the objective of benefiting the businessmen of the large companies.” sugar plantations and slavers interested in expelling them from their territories to keep them” (Castillo, 2021 p. 77).

It has been argued that in the 17th century, after the sinking of one or more ships trafficking enslaved Africans and that the event would have taken place in the years 1612, 1635, 1664, 1670, 1675 (Castillo, 2021). However, in recent decades, debate and questioning about these shipwrecks has increased, calling into question the aforementioned dates; timely giving the constitution of the Garifuna society that was in resistance since the beginning of the European settlement in the region.

In any case, it is certain that in the 16th century the Arawaks and the Garinagu (red or yellow Caribs and the black Caribs), so called by the English, on the one hand coexisted and shared the island of San Vicente, the latter had their habitat in the windward coast to the east of the island and the first on the leeward coast (Castillo, 2021).

Another important point regarding the Garifuna refers to the preponderance in the specific culture that they developed elements taken from the Arawak with whom they shared the island and built relationships. This characteristic refers to some cultural behaviours, even in the language, where the use of elements specifically aimed at women in charge of the education of children prevails and men used other different words. (Prescod et Fraser, 2008).

Codes of Garifuna history

The accounts of the chronicles of the first travellers exhibited in various ancient archives of the European colonial navy reveal what were called the “maritime precincts of the communities in the Antilles.” These enclosures can be roughly divided into four categories.

The first and most brutal was the use of genocidal violence, with the aim of achieving the elimination of the population and all forms of life. “Around 1626 in Saint Kitts and Nevis the extermination of the Kalina population was carried out, the colonists spared only a few women who they shared as sexual slaves” (Archive, 1666, p. 24).

But given the resistance that had prevented the Spanish from entering certain territories for more than a century, this was not always possible, nor even desirable; sometimes a second route was more effective, the exodus. Following the peace treaties signed with the English and French, the Garinagu were effectively relocated to the islands of Saint Vincent, Dominica and Saint Lucia (Archive, 1666).

The island of Saint Vincent was claimed by the French crown since 1620, given the resistance of the natives to accept strangers on their island, the first war between the indigenous natives and the French broke out in 1626, and then it was partially inhabited by European settlers, especially the French. , the island of Saint Vincent has long been one of the few islands considered neutral, in this sense due to the resistance of the Garinagu.

The multiple wars and resistance of the Garinagu through their island alliances with other indigenous populations of the Antillean islands, forced the French and British to negotiate the peace treaty in Martinique, celebrated in Basse-Terre (Guadeloupe) on 31 March 1660, where the French and English crowns promised never to inhabit the two islands of Saint Vincent and Dominica, and that from now on it would be Caribbean territory (Moreau et Payot 1994).

In this context, the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle of 1748 ruled out the recognition of all the conquests made during the War of the Austrian Succession, including the West Indies, however it recognized the Garinagu inhabitants of the island as a reserve, figure which positions them as indigenous native peoples of this island, and also allowed the French to firmly take control in 1744, to regain their position as a neutral island.

The Treaty of Paris concluded in 1763 between France and England, put an end to the Seven Years’ War, the king of France, however, ceded to His British Majesty the Islands of Grenada and the Grenadines, and arranged for a partition of the islands called neutrals, in recognition of the treaties of 1660 and 1748 that declared Garinagu territory, however the proposal was not taken into account in its entirety and Saint Vincent, Dominica and Tobago remained in the power of Great Britain, while Saint Lucia was handed over to France (Nicolas, 2005).

These provisions paved the way for the allocation of land to English settlers, this attitude was rejected by the Garinagu. This led to the First Caribbean War, which ended in 1773 with the conclusion of a treaty that delimited the territory left to the Garinagu (Roger, 1776). The delegation that attended the signing of the peace agreement at Camp Macaricau was led by Garifuna leader Joseph Chatoyer.

The American independence movement realized the signing of the peace treaty between Garinagu and the English in 1773, for the American revolutionaries it represented an important support that would strengthen their independence processes. The treaty signed between the Garinagu and the British crown clearly indicates the territorial delimitation and recognition of their differences and their Caribbean Country, the French recognized it as an established population with its own independent State (Castillo, 2021).

This combative experience with a high level of negotiation to achieve the signing of the treaty soon spread throughout the Caribbean region and the entire American continent, in addition to being an important instrument to strengthen the independence and abolitionist movement of slavery. At that time, the French Revolution was raging and the Garinagu coined liberal ideas and received support from the French.

That is why when the War of Independence of the United States broke out, the Garinagu and the enslaved Caribbean blacks assisted the French troops in their fight against England, together with the Americanist troops, giving rise to the declaration of the independence of the States. United States of North America in 1778. By then the Garinagu were negotiating with the French and also mediating for the fulfilment of the treaty. They were also admired throughout the region for their resistance and negotiating skills, they showed their empathy to the French and believed in their revolution. The French organized the “Continental Regiment” with bodies of blacks from their Caribbean colonies, to support the American Revolution, the Garinagu fighters also took part under the command of Admiral D’. Estaing. “The continental regiment left the island of Saint Lucia in 1776 for the Carolinas” (D’. Estaing, 1776), the American war culminated with the declaration of Independence of the American Union in 1778.

In 1795, Joseph Chatoyer declared that he shared republican principles, he took up arms against the English from Guadeloupe, Victor Hugue came to support him with his army, and he supplied him with weapons, provisions, combatants, among whom was Louis Delgrès, a commander of the French army who began the expedition with Josep Chatoyer. This support was not enough to prevent English troops, supported by reinforcements from Martinique, from winning the Second Garinagu War against the British, with so many deaths that the Garinagu soldiers along with their French and enslaved Caribbean counterparts were forced to surrender.

Insular Garifuna

European chroniclers revealed through countless stories, dated from the time of 1580, 1600, 1640 and 1700, the interests of the French and English Crown in the Antillean islands, inhabited by the natives, whom they called Caribs, savages and cannibals referring to a population that defended its territory from attacks by invaders.

However, the narrative of European chroniclers does not always contemplate the natives’ vision of their reality, so they are not the ones who wrote their history. Information that would have been written from colonial thought and vision, which was very selective and selfish, glimpses the positioning of the Catholic Church in line with colonial interests.

Furthermore, it was praise for the class that owned enslaved people and large plantations, thereby justifying the conflicts, their crimes and wars that were waged against the Garinagu from the year 1626 to the year 1796 and 1797 when they were exiled from their Yurumein Island.

In this context, the strategies of their alliances of the insular Garinagu, considering that the Europeans destroyed multiple manifestations of life and any socio-political development. In the region, this forced the Garinagu at that time to form inter-island alliances among themselves and they forged ties with other groups such as the Wayuu and Warawarou of South America, Karina, Tainos and Arawaks in complementary opposition to fight against their common enemies.

The mystery of its resistance for several centuries, spiritual practice as an instrument of survival and the complexity of its socio-political characterizations of Antillean societies, at the time of European contact essentially embody and synchronize the processes of formation and fragmentation of the region. By successively placing the gaze on the historical data that revives the present, built and preceded from the lens of the colonial enterprise, considered as a slow process of apprehension, understanding of the space and nature of the Antillean native.

So I dare to ask. What was the positioning of the European witness or narrator? Our findings reveal that the chronicles are completely complex, loaded with many inconsistencies, trying to assimilate the other from their own, it is certainly a notion about reality that is difficult to objectify, especially the spirit of a Garifuna nation that defended itself, and he resisted the threat of a newcomer who, in his opinion, did not generate any trust. The Garifunas question the colonial narrative about their own history, and focus their analysis on several stagesperiods of study and analysis being: pre-Columbian Garifuna, colonial Garifuna and contemporary Garifuna, important elements to begin a process of restoration and repair, drawing a map on the contours of a knowledge about the experience that the Garifuna nation has experienced throughout its resistance and survival, to understand the phenomenon, the catastrophe, the trauma that cannot be reduced to the enumeration and brief description of the main sources of our history.

Those who narrated and wrote the Garifuna history for that nascent colonial science, was constituted from the various academic circles, missionaries, collectors, botanists, pirates, thieves and murderers, and the way of arguing and transmitting the information to the public constitutes a provocation of the illusion of the past, that is why it lives in the present although it narrates the ancient, and weaves the visions in the pyramids of the colonial heritage, legitimized, accredited and legalized today by the academy and governments, are words that they use to trap , define his act and with high impact on our lives from a historical perspective. The power of the victor over the vanquished allows history to be told as he wants and in his favour. It is then up to us, after several centuries, to silence the discourse through a process of historical restoration, to reorient the narrative from the vision and perspective of the Garifuna nation on its own reality, and that constitutes the first step towards reparation, that is, returning their dignity as a people and that is “restoration of the history of the Garifuna Indigenous nation.”


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FLOY, Salas | Poets & Writers, Both my first novel, Tattoo the Wicked Cross, and my memoir, Buffalo Nickel, are featured in Masterpieces of Hispanic Literature (Harper Collins 1994).My fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

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SCOTT, Julius, (1986), The common wind. Currents of Afro-American communication in the era of the Haitian Revolution, thèse de doctorat en histoire, Duke University, Durham, NC, p. 174 et passim.

V. NICOLAS, Rey, (2005), Caraïbes noirs et “negros franceses” (Antilles/Amériquecentrale): le périple de Noirs “révolutionnaires”, Nuevo Mundo Mundos Nuevos.

YOUNG, Williams, (1795), An account of the Black Charaibs in the Island of Saint-Vincent’s, with the Charaib treaty of 1773, and other original document. J. Sewell, Cornhill and Knight and Triphook, London.



Jose Angel Manaiza Jr

Known as The Tutor To The Stars from Malibu to Beverly Hills. Mr. Manaiza is knighted by the order of St John Russian Grand Priory (OSJ) in New York City.