According to historian Ricardo Alegria, the first free black man set foot on the island of Porto Rico in 1509. He was Juan Garrido
When Ponce de León and the Spaniards arrived on the island of "Borinken" (Puerto Rico), they were greeted by the Cacique Agüeybaná, the supreme leader of the peaceful Taíno tribes on the island. Agüeybaná helped to maintain the peace between the Taínos and the Spaniards.
According to historian Ricardo Alegria, the first free black man set foot on the island in 1509.
He was Juan Garrido, a conquistador who belonged to Juan Ponce de León's entourage. Garrido was born on the West African coast, the son of an African King.
In 1508, he joined Juan Ponce de Leon to explore Puerto Rico and prospect for gold, and in 1511, he fought under Ponce de Leon to repress the Caribs and the Tainos who had joined forces in Puerto Rico in a great revolt against the Spaniards.Garrido went on to join Hernan Cortes in the Spanish conquest of Mexico.
Another free black man who accompanied de León was Pedro Mejías. Mejías married a Taíno woman chief (a cacica) by the name of Yuisa. Yuisa was baptized Luisa (hence the name of the town of Loíza) so that she could marry Mejías.
The Legends of Loiza
The Legends of Loiza are many but perhaps the most popular one is about the only female Taino Cacique ( chief) named Yuiza ( Yuisa, Loaiza, Luisa, Loiza). Of all the Taino Chiefs of the Caribbean there were only two who were women, only one in Boriken ( Puerto Rico).
When the Spanish Conquistadores invaded Puerto Rico and enslaved the Taino Indians the indians resisted. They never adapted to slavery, most of the Taino men were killed. Many of the women lived on as wives of the spanish sailors.
Legend has it (that to protect her people) Yuiza became the lover of (Click on name) mulatto conquistador Pedro Mejias
and because of this she was killed by other Taino Caciques ( who felt she was a traitor to have been with a spaniard). She actually was a hero and greatly admired by her own tribal people, even today. This may be the legend that gives meaning to the mix in Loiza of black Africans and Taino Indian, or it may, in fact be a historical truth. In actual fact, there are no historical documents to prove this, her marriage with Mejias.