José Antonio Aponte, a free black carpenter, a descendant from the Yoruba tribe and former first corporal in the colonial black militia, was widely seen as the leader of a series of revolts that gripped Cuba in 1812. This series of revolts became collectively known as the Aponte Rebellion and would become one of the largest and most important slave uprisings in Cuban and Caribbean history. Between January and March of 1812, the Aponte Rebellion was waged by a coalition of slaves, free people of color, mulattoes, Africans and Creoles, whites and members of the rural and urban population. The rebellion erupted across Cuba, when an insurgency broke out on the Peñas-Altas sugar plantation outside of Havana. Taking inspiration form the successful Haitian Revolution of 1791, the rebels were prompted to act by the knowledge of the harsh savage life slaves faced on plantations and widespread belief in rumors that the colonists had promised emancipation. Their objective was an impressive one, which relied on a network spread across the island, ensuring simultaneous revolts that promised to end slavery in Cuba and destabilize Spanish colonial rule of the island. This rebellion was the first call for independence on the island. However, as is the case with most slave rebellions throughout the Caribbean colonies, a traitor revealed Aponte as the ringleader. Once the rebellion was put down, multiple investigations followed, in which more than 350 people were investigated for their involvement in the rebellion, of which approximately 34 of whom were executed, including Aponte.

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