The Caribbean before the landing of Columbus served almost as a bridge
between the north coast of South America and Florida for the Amazonian
tribes in the south and the north american inhabitants. When Christopher
Columbus on his second trip in 1493 landed in Puerto Rico and claimed it for
Spain, he found the island populated by as many as 60,000 Arawak or Taino
indians, which for the most part, were friendly compared to the Carib indians in
some of the more southerly islands which were warlike and to some degree
The conquest of the island didn't take long, and the peaceful Tainos were put
to the task as slaves for the purpose of mining the gold that was found on the
island. The gold didn't last long and in 1511 there was an uprising of the
Tainos, who up to this point had believed that the Spaniards were Gods, and
took a soldier by the name of Sotomayor and dunked him head first in a river
for several hours to see if he would die. Just in case, they had prepared a feast
for the Spaniard if he came out alive. However, it wasn't the Spanish sword
that took most of the lives of the Arawaks, but the diseases that were brought
from Europe and for which the indians had no defenses.
In 1508 the first governor arrived, Juan Ponce de León (who is more famous
as the searcher for the fountain of youth and discoveror of the state of Florida).
The island remained Spanish despite harassment and numerous conquest
attempts by buccaneers and pirates and English and Dutch expeditions. To
defend the island against these threats, two forts, El Morro and San
Cristóbal,were built to guard the approaches to San Juan harbor. Defense of
these forts foiled attempts by Sir Francis Drake in...