Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pedro Alonso Niño piloted one of Columbus' ships in 1492

Pedro Alonso Niño (also Peralonso Niño) was a Spanish explorer of African descent, also known as El Negro (the Black). Born in Palos de Moguer, Spain, he explored the coasts of Africa in his early years. He piloted one of Columbus' ships in the expedition of 1492, and accompanied him during his third voyage that saw the discovery of Trinidad and the mouths of the Orinoco River. After returning to Spain, Niño made preparations to explore the Indies independently, looking for gold and pearls. Empowered by the Council of Castile to seek out new countries, avoiding those already found by Columbus, he committed to give 20% of his profits for the Spanish Crown.
In the company of brothers Luis and Cristóbal de la Guerra, respectively a rich merchant and a pilot, he left San Lucas in May 1499, and, after 23 days, they arrived at Maracapana. Visiting the islands of Margarita, Coche, and Cubagua, they exchanged objects of little value for a large quantity of pearls before sailing up the coast to Punta Araya, where they discovered salt mines.
After just two months they were back in Bayona, Spain, loaded with wealth, but also accused of cheating the King out of his portion of the spoils. Arrested, and with his property confiscated, Niño died before the conclusion of his trial.