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Pedro Rodriquez Cubero

Pedro Rodíiquez Cubero was born in Huéscar, in the southern province of Granada, Spain, baptized on July 29, 1656 to Antonio Rodríguez Cubero and María González Solá. Much of his early life is missing from the written record, but on June 20, 1674, he began his career in the royal service by enlisting in the infantry of the Armada of the Ocean Sea as a common soldier, a musketman. That year he left from the Catalonian coast for Sicily as part of an expedition confronting a rebellion in Messina. Later he left as an infrantryman on the galleon Nuesta Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza and participated on three navel battles against the French. He went on to serve on the Galician coast and sailed in 1681 to Cape St. Vincent from New Spain to Cadiz.

On June 17, 1689, King Carlos II granted Pedro the title of warden and captain for life of the fortress of La Punta in Havana, Cuba. By June 6, 1692, King Carlos II agreed to grant him the governorship of New Mexico. At some point Rodríguez Cubero decided to renege on his acceptance of the office, stating that he learned that the climate of New Mexico was very cold and thus harmful to his health. Historian Rick Hendricks has argued that Cubero was also lining up for future positions and considered New Mexico nothing more than a stepping stone on his career path. His petition was denied, however, and by 1697 he was in Mexico City preparing to assume the governorship of New Mexico. He took possession of his office on July 2, 1697.

While there is evidently very little that is left to report of Rodríguez Cubero’s tenure, it is known that he visited the pueblos in the west in 1699 and in 1701, after the destruction of Aguatuvi, Governor Rodríguez Cubero marched against the Hopis, killing a few and captured several individuals, but evidently only because it was deemed good policy, the captives were later released.

In many ways, however, the most significant event during his tenure involved his predecessor and successor, Vargas. Governor Rodríguez Cubero sanctioned the enmity that was held against Vargas by the officials of the Santa Fe cabildo and formal charges were brought against him. Vargas was accused of embezzlement of money, provoking the hostilities of 1694-96 and was even charged with bringing on the famine of 1695-96, inasmuch as it was charged that by the mismanagement of the ex-governor and his failure properly to distribute the remaining portion of the food supply among the colonists. Vargas was found guilty and was fined four thousand pesos as costs of the suit, all of his property was confiscated and he was confined to prison for nearly three years. The fact that Vargas was so closely guarded, was not allowed to present his case to the viceroy, and the other harsh treatment administered by Rodríguez Cubero would seem to indicate a pronounced animus on his part. It was not until the end of his sentence that the king was apprized that Vargas had applied for re-appointment, and the king publicly acknowledged his appreciation to Vargas and gave him the choice of titles between marqués and conde and re-appointed him governor of New Mexico, which was to take effect three years later upon the expiration of the term of office of Rodríguez Cubero, or sooner, if the office should become vacant.

In August 1703, Governor Rodríguez Cubero learned that Vargas was on his way from Mexico City to assume the duties of governor, to which office he had been appointed, feared that Vargas would take revenge upon him for the many acts of cruelty which he had suffered at his hands, under the feigned statement that he was going upon a campaign against the Indians, left Santa Fe and never returned. Although he had the future of the governorship of Maracaibo, he died in Mexico City in 1704 before taking office.

Sources Used:

For a full biography on Governor Rodríguez Cubero, see Rick Hendricks, "Pedro Rodríguez Cubero: New Mexico's Reluctant Governor, 1697-1703," New Mexico Historical Review, 68: 1 (January 1993): 13-39.