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Venezuela, Negro Miguel Rebellion, 1552

Dario Azzellini

Subject Imperial, Colonial, and Postcolonial History » Colonial History

Place South America » Venezuela

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1500-1599

Key-Topics freedom, indigenous rights, race, revolution, slavery

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.01534.x


In 1553, the first recorded revolt by Africans enslaved by the Spanish colonial authority disrupted a gold rush in Venezuela's Burla mining region. The uprising was led by Negro Miguel, an African slave who established a maroon colony and who is now recognized as a leader in the historical struggle for racial justice in Venezuela. Following the discovery of gold reserves by Spanish explorer Damián del Barrio on the edges of the Buría River, now in Venezuela's Yaracuy State, near the city of Nirgua, a gold rush ensued, leading to the founding in 1551 of Real de Minas de San Felipe de Buría, the first miners' settlement in Venezuela. In its wake, gold miners established the town of El Tocuyo in 1545 as a prospecting center. In 1550, the Spanish crown decided to permit the involuntary transport of the first African slaves to the region to work the mines. By 1552, 80 Africans, including Miguel, his wife, and his children, were forced into slavery in the Real de Minas region. In 1553, Negro Miguel fled the mining operation with his family and other slaves to the surrounding mountains, from where they planned a nocturnal ambush of colonial guards and miners in Real de Minas. The attack was successful, making possible the collective escape of enslaved African miners. After the successful rebel attack on Spanish colonial authorities, the reputation of Negro Miguel and his rebel force was ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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