Vasco Nuñez de Balboa  (Part 5)

Balboa and Pedro Arias de Ávila

News eventually reached Spain of Balboa's takeover and of his treatment of rebellious settlers, Enciso and Nicuesa, the last, who drowned after he forced them to sail to Espanola in an un-seaworthy vessel. Martín Fernández de Enciso was at the Spanish court, making all kind of accusations against Balboa, and how he was responsible for the fact that Enciso had been arrested and sent back to Spain. He gave himself credit for all of the good of the town, and never mentioned the wrongs he had done. He also failed to mention, that they were really in Castilla del Oro, where he had no legal authority, not Nueva Andalusia, where he did have legal authority, granted by Ojeda. King Ferdinand, believing Enciso, became upset with Balboa, and ordered that he be removed from office that he may have been elected too. He also appointed Pedro Arias Ávila (also called Pedrarias) on July 27, 1513, as governor of Darien in Castilla del Oro. Pedrarias was an elderly, nobleman of no great achievements. What was know of him, was that he was a very ambitious person, and would betray his friends to get what every he wanted

By the time news of Balboa's accomplishment reached the King, Pedrarias had already set sail for his new governorship and it was too late, to recall him back. King Ferdinand was told of all the new regions discovered and colonized by Balboa. He was informed to the discovery of the South Sea and the subjugation of thousands of natives in the area. The truth as to why Enciso had been voted out of office, and why Nicuesa, had been sent back to Española, was also related to the King. The emissary also brought a large quantity of gold and pearls, that had been collected in the new lands. In gratitude for his accomplishments, the King appointed Balboa the governor of the South Sea, and the lands that it bathed. This was in addition to the appointment of Adelantado, that had been bestowed on him by Diego Colon, the governor of Española.

On June 30, 1514, Pedrarias arrived at Santa Maria la Antigua de Darien, and formally took control of the government. He had heard about all of Balboa's accomplishments, and decided to proceed with caution, in his dealing with Balboa. Pedrarias was very deceitful man and became jealous of Balboa's strengths and accomplishments. He did not like seeing the growing popularity and influence which Balboa was developing in the colony. Balboa was generous, carefree, and was no match for the world of intrigue that was about to fall on him.

Pretending to be his friend, he asked Balboa to prepare a written report on all of his experiences and events that had occurred in the colony. Balboa prepared the document giving complete details of all that had transpire during his command of the region. No sooner did Balboa give the report to Pedrarias, when he did an about face, and turned against Balboa and ordered his arrest. Balboa was spared harsh punishment, because of the intercedment of the Bishop of Darien, Quevedo, and the Alcalde, who defended him. 

The governor, relaxed his restrictions on Balboa, and let him out of the prison, but ordered him, not to leave the community of Antigua. To mask his sinister designs, Pedrarias offered one of his daughters to Balboa in marriage and ordering him to abandon his Indian bride, Anna Yansi. In the mean time, he continued to plot against him. Balboa was allowed to continue his explorations while Pedrarias and the Licentiate Gaspar de Espinosa were slowly tightening a net of true and false testimony around him under cover of the inevitable Residencia. The Crown had awarded Balboa the title of Adelantado of the South Sea, Governor of Coyba and of what subsequently became the district of Panama, but Arias and his agents understood how to reduce these titles to empty honors.

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September 14, 2002