Who’s Venezuela’s Black Revolutionary War Hero?

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

Pedro Camejo Statue Photo: Venezuelan Government Website http://fnp.gob.ve/

Rebecca Cuningham

19 thoughts on “Who’s Venezuela’s Black Revolutionary War Hero?

  1. Conozco bien la historia del periodo revolucionario de Venezuela (s. XIX) y la de Pedro Camejo recuerdo que de pequeña me impresionó mucho. Soy italiana de sangre y venezolana de nacimiento. Gracias por tan interesantes artículos.

    [translation] I know well the history of the revolutionary period of Venezuela (19th Century) and that of Pedro Camejo. I remember that when I learned about him as a child he impressed me a lot. I am of Italian heritage and Venezuelan by birth. Thank you for such interesting articles.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gracias a ti Anna por tu comentario! Me interesa mucho saber tu historia personal de ser italiana y venezolana. Aprecio mucho que te gusten los artículos de Fake Flamenco. Muy agradecida. -Rebecca

      [translation] Thanks to you, Anna for your comments! I am very interested to know your personal history of your Italian heritage and your Venezuelan nationality. I appreciate very much that you like the Fake Flamenco articles. With much gratitude, Rebecca

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Some added history…Crispus Attucks was the first casualty of the US revolutionary war as you said. But most people don’t know how close we came to losing the war due to a lack of manpower.

    Washington only had 2898 men left in his army due to enlistments running out, and after losing almost 2000 men over the winter at Valley Forge. He petitioned Congress to raise men from each state – at least one regiment. When he couldn’t get enough men from Rhode Island, he reluctantly agreed to accept black soldiers into the army. All slaves who joined were given their freedom and their owners were compensated $400 per person who joined. Thus, the 1st Rhode Island regiment went into service in 1778 and became the first official black regiment in the US army. They served with distinction clear thru the war including the Battle of Yorktown.

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    1. The First US Black Regiment served in 1778, thanks for that information Larry! They fought for personal freedom and for independence from England. In the history I have read, more Black soldiers joined the British Army, because they were promised their freedom. Also, thanks for being frank about Washington’s prejudices. The troops certainly proved him wrong. Sounds like the revolution would have ended in 1778 without the Black Rhode Island Regiment.

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    2. lhoke2016, yes, you are right we did come close to losing the war due to lack of manpower. That is why Lafayette created a black regiment to over ride Washington’s prejudice. Traditional history doesn’t go beyond this, but the sad part is that many of them was re-enslaved after the war was over because their former masters demanded they were needed to run the plantations. Those who fought for the British were taken to Canada not England.

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      1. Thank you for your comments. I also had heard that not many of the Black revolutionary soldiers were granted freedom from slavery. I think it’s time to coin a term to reflect the way wealth was generated (and still is) by many US businesses; perhaps Subjugation Capitalism. Why can we not pay living wages and retain factories here, rather than perpetuate the legacy of enslavement abroad?

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      2. I think the term “Subjugation Capitalism” suit this situation in the 1700’s and thereafter. I am happy to learn that someone else has heard of the re-enslavement of the Revolutionary War soldiers. From the recording of old census records only a few were granted freedom. Greed and prejudice are the reasons we can not do any of those things like pay a fair wages and acknowledge how other’s lives were used for free to build Capitalist.

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      3. Thanks for your detailed response. Since 1609 is an infamous date for the first slaves in the colonies, the Subjugation Capitalism began then. Freed people were also re-enslaved after the Runaway Slave act. Another crime. I think laws against prejudice and regulations tempering greed would be helpful in moving forward.

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      4. The first slaved people of African origin arrived at Jamestown Virginia in 1619 but it is believed enslaved Africans arrived with the first colonists and are actually who helped Jamestowns. It has been discovered that an African arrived in Plymouth Rock. We know of those who arrived with the Spanish in the 1500’s but know very little about those predating 1619.

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      5. The first document in 1640 was documented where? In Jamestown, Virginia? The White Lion
        The White Lion was a privateer ship of English manufacture that brought the first Africans to Virginia in late August 1619, a year before the Mayflower. Reversioned history say that the Africans were initially sold as indentured servants, but that is not true, in the true fact, it is regarded as the origin of enslaved Africans in English colonies in mainland North America. First enslaved Africans arrive in Jamestown, setting the stage for slavery in North America. On August 20, 1619, “20 and odd” Angolans, kidnapped by the Portuguese, arrive in the British colony of Virginia and are then bought by English colonists.

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      6. Oh okay, African Americans history taken from oral history, it were told through oral history stated that it was always slavery. It was never indenture servant. Those kidnapped and brought to the colony of Jamestown in 1619 were sold as slaves. That’s why the celebration of 400 years in 2019. The only way to gain freedom was in some parts slaves could purchase their freedom by negotiating with their master for a purchase price and this was the most common way for slaves to be freed. Manumission also occurred during baptism, or as part of an owner’s last will and testament. Freedom rarely occurred.

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