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Alfonso Arrivillaga Cortés

was born on the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent around 1788. Upon his conversion to Christianity later in life, his given name was changed to Marcos. In April 1797, at the age of 10, he arrived in Guatemala, together with more than 2,000 African- and Amerindian-descended “Caribes,” as they were called in Central America. In the Caribbean Lesser Antilles they were known as “Caribes-Negros,” and carried out an effective war against the British colonists (1795–1796). Upon their defeat they were deported to the community of Roatán on the Bay Islands to the north of the Honduran coast.

The first historical account we have of Marcos is in the 1821 census of the community of Trujillo on the Caribbean coast, around the time that Spain’s Central American colonies declared independence (Archivo General de Centroamérica [AGCA], A1—leg. 99, exp. 1159 The census tells us that at that ...