I’m sure everybody remembers Ponce de Leon. He’s the guy who, also according to my high school history book, spent much of his life searching for the fabled Fountain of Youth. At one time he thought he’d found it in Florida but that turned out to be a mistake. All he’d found was the splintered remains of a redwood hot tub belonging to an elderly Jewish lady from the Bronx who’d had a facelift.
Ponce came across the pond from Spain in 1493 with Chris on Columbus’s second voyage. After he’d made his bones as a top-notch military honcho on the Island of Hispaniola, Ponce was named first governor of Puerto Rico in 1509. He entered into a peace treaty with the roughly 40,000 members of the Taino tribe to end the bickering that had ensued upon Chris’s discovery that his lovely fort, built from the poop deck of the Santa Maria, had been burned and his soldiers reduced to compost. Not that the peaceful Tainos were entirely to blame. They had fallen under the ill-advised influence of the warlike Caribs and had foolishly decided to drive the invaders from their island paradise.
Which turned out to be of no avail in any case. By 1515 their numbers had dwindled to 4,000 and they were all but wiped out by 1544. Some say the tragic disappearance of the Tainos from the face of the planet was accelerated by their exposure to disease the Spaniards brought from the Old World; some say war worked its magic on the indigenous populace; while still others say mistreatment of the enslaved was the real culprit. But I think everyone can agree on one thing. It was a classic case of Genocide.
Not to worry. Their places were soon taken by settlers from Spain who’d heard about the flakes of pure gold that sullied the trickling waters of the lovely island. Although even today the DNA of the typical Puerto Rican contains vestiges of their Taino ancestors. Which kind of implies that there was a certain amount of “mingling” going on. Proponents of Racial Purity need to watch out for that rascally mingling. It messes with their Ubermensch worldview.