Pirates, Privateers, and Buccaneers

Board ’em!

The pirate is a sea bandit, and in the same way as highwaymen, he ambushes ocean voyagers to strip them of their goods and their lives. The privateer, on the other hand, has authorization from his government — Letters of Marque — to attack Spanish and Portuguese ships, enemies of France and England, in exchange for a part of the booty. In the Antilles the buccaneers also emerge: first hunters and then cattle farmers, who later join the pirates creating the “Brethern of the Brothers of the Coast”.

All of them, under the generic name of freebooters, are refugees from fate and are adventurers who come from several European countries, attracted by the fascination of wealth and freedom for which America is synonymous.

Between the 16th and 18th centuries, pirates, privateers and buccaneers disrupt Spanish trade in the Caribbean sea. they terrorize their towns and plunder, as far as the Pacific coast, the entire American continent.

Pirates in Bacalar

Since the beginning of the 17th century, Bacalar was a target of pirate attacks. Diego the Mulatto, a pirate of Cuban origin, who had been second in command to the Dutchman Cornelio Jol, better known as “Pegleg", attacked and pillaged the town of Bacalar on several occasions. The pirates arrived by land or by going up the Río Hondo in small sloops, which owing to the shallow water could glide through the swamps that lead into the lagoon.

In the mid-17th century another pirate, called Abraham, raided Bacalar. Not content with just sacking the town, he also took the town’s women. The inhabitants retaliated, quickly rescuing the women. The skirmish was not forgotten by Abraham and in 1652 he attacked the town again, leaving it in such a state of devastation that only a few inhabitants stayed in it. The down did not manage to recover, since the population was decimated through hunger, diseases, attacks by rebel Indians and more assaults from pirates and smugglers.

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