Alonso de Illescas (1528-1585)
In 1997, the National Congress of Ecuador declared October 2, the national day of Black Ecuadorians giving formal recognition to Alonso de Illescas (pronounced O-lone-zo Day EE-yes-cahs) born in Cape Verde Islands, off the coast of Senegal, West Africa. Around the age of 10, Illescas was captured by slave hunters and brought to Spain. He was then brought to Ecuador on a slave ship around the age of 25 and grew up to be a strategist skilled in guerrilla warfare. Behind a fortress built by by an alliance of escaped African slaves and Indigenous people, Illescas and his men fought and turned back many expeditions of Spanish forces.