In the war for independence from the Spanish, Simon Bolívar recruited a solider of African descent for his bravery and skill with the lance, Pedro Camejo. Camejo was born in San Juan de Payara, Venezuela, in 1790. He fought with the rebels beginning in 1818 and reached the rank of lieutenant. He met his untimely end when he marched into the Battle of Carabobo on 24 June 1821 and was shot twice in the chest by a Spanish soldier. According to legend, written by Eduardo Blanco in his epic Venezuela Heroica (1881), Camejo said these words to his General Páez,
“Mi general, vengo a decirle adiós porque estoy muerto.”
“My General, I come to say goodbye because I am dead/dying.“
Camejo is known by the title, “Negro Primero” or First Black, as a term of respect and for his bravery in leading the charges into battle. He was also the only Black officer in Bolivar’s army. Camejo’s story is an integral part of Venezuela’s history of independence. However, his bust in Caracas pictured below is the only statue of a Afro-Venezuelan in the country until Hugo Chavez’ presidency.
In a parallel story, a Black patriot from US history, Crispus Attucks died in the Boston Massacre in 1770 and was honored by a Boston monument in 1888.
Thanks for reading Fake Flamenco! Please leave a comment below. Happy Black History Month! ¡Olé! –Rebecca