Luis De Torres - Explorer, Interperter, Agent to the King
Upon reaching Cuba, Columbus sent Luis De Torres on a mission to find the "Great Khan of Tartary." De Torres marched 12 leagues inland in the first recorded land expedition in these Islands. He reported on a native custom of putting one end of a burning leaf in the nostrils and inhaling the vapors of tobacco. He also described a colorful bird he likened to a peacock. The Hebrew word for peacock is "Tukki."
De Torres fell in love with the island and asked to stay. A native chief gave him a grant of land and the King of Spain gave him a pension and named him Royal Agent. He formed alliances for Spain by marrying the daughters of many chiefs and spent a long and happy life in Cuba.
Spain's "Final Edict," of March 31, 1492, gave Jews the alternatives of conversion to Catholicism or banishment. Most Jews fled to the east and north from Spain.
Be it old world or new, the Inquisition pursued the Jew and burned some at the stake while causing others to flee and settle in what is today Texas and New Mexico.
Modern historical research established that some of the Conquistadors who accompanied and/or followed Cortez in Mexico were converted Jews who returned to their true faith in the freedom laden air of a new society in the new world. Parts of the land that became the United States were settled by these Jews more than 100 years before the landing of Jews in New Amsterdam in 1654.
In 1596, Dona Francesca Rodriguez Caravajal, the sister of Governor Don Luis de Caravajal, was burned at the stake in Mexico City along with her three daughters and one son, Luis de Caravajal. The son's auto-biogarphy established him as the first Jewish author in the New World. Mariana de Caravajal, another sister, was burned at the stake later in 1601.
In 1589, Isabel Rodriguez de Andrada, niece of Don Luis de Caravajal, Governor of a province called The New Kingdom of Leon, was tortured by an Inquisition court into naming many other fellow colonizers as judaizers. The subsequent conviction of the Governor himself was thought to have triggered a flight of some of the original colonizers into and beyond the northern reaches of the province into land that is today part of Texas and New Mexico.