Velázquez, Diego de [key], c.1460–1524?, Spanish conquistador, first governor of Cuba, b. Cuéllar, Spain. He sailed with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage (1493) to Hispaniola and in 1511 commanded an expedition sent by Diego Columbus to conquer Cuba. Landing at Baracoa, where he established the seat of government, by 1514 he had completed occupation of the island with the aid of his friend and chief lieutenant, Pánfilo de Narváez. Velázquez continued the colonization of Cuba and founded many of its principal towns. Before he sailed for Cuba, there had been ill feeling between him and Diego Columbus; soon after conquering Cuba, Velázquez established himself as governor of the island and declared himself independent of Columbus's authority. He was connected with the expedition of Fernández de Córdoba to Yucatán (1517) and in 1518 sent out an expedition under Juan de Grijalva, who explored the Mexican coast. Late in 1518 the Spanish king made Velázquez adelantado (civil and military governor) of Cuba and any territories that might be discovered under his orders. Hernán Cortés was placed in command of a third expedition that sailed in 1519 for the conquest of Mexico. Distrusting Cortés, Velázquez in 1520 sent Pánfilo de Narváez to compel his return to Cuba, but Narváez was defeated and the remainder of his forces joined Cortés. In 1521, Velázquez was replaced as governor of Cuba, but in 1523 he was restored to his post.
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