SPANISH RAIDS ON DUTCH TERRITORY (1758-1768)
In 1758, an expedition of about 100 Spanish soldiers invaded Dutch territory on the upper Cuyuni and raided the Dutch Post. The expedition was undertaken in secrecy and was followed by a hurried retreat. Two Dutchmen with their wives and an African slave were taken away as prisoners. The Spaniards claimed that the Dutch had established a settlement there for the purpose of Amerindian slave trading in the Spanish Mission district, and it was for this reason they moved against it. The raid was clearly an act of aggression but it resulted in no addition to the area of Spanish occupation or control.
The Director-General of Essequibo, Gravesande, strongly protested the raid in a letter to the Spanish Commandant at Guayana. In this letter, the claim of the Dutch to the territory was declared to be indisputable. The letter was answered by the Acting Governor of Cumaná, Don Nicolas de Castro, who stated that the Cuyuni region was included in the dominion of the King of Spain. However, when the papers were referred to the Legal Adviser of the Government of Cumaná, he reported that the justification for the destruction of the Post, on the ground that it was established for the slave trade, was a matter for the Government at Madrid.
The Dutch did not re-occupy the Cuyuni Post until 1766. This delay came about because they were occupied in assisting with the suppression of the Berbice Slave Rebellion in 1763. However, while there was no Post, provisional arrangements were made for watching the river.
In 1766, the Cuyuni Post was re-established at a point lower down the river than that of the former Post. After trying a site on the banks of the river, the Postholder in 1769 moved the Post to an island between the two falls which he called Toenamoeto ("at the rapid of Tonamo").
The re-establishment of the Cuyuni Post was followed by a series of rumours of planned Spanish attacks by the Spaniards upon it. Though these rumours were without foundation, yet certain acts of aggression by the Spanish authorities in the area led the Dutch again to make a formal protest to the Court of Madrid in 1769.
With respect to the Barima area, Gravesande, in 1749, stated firmly that the district was under his jurisdiction. In 1760, when the Spaniards seized some Dutch fishing vessels there, Gravesande, in reply to an inquiry by the West India Company, stated it as his view, based on local tradition and maps in his possession, that the colony extended to Barima. A register of the colony enclosed in a letter from the Director-General, dated 9 February 1762, stated the boundary as existing to the Amakura. Reports of the Secretary to the West India Company in 1761 and 1762 showed the Waini was treated as a Dutch river, and a Report of 1764 and a letter of 1768 showed that the colony of Essequibo included the Barima and Waini. In 1766, the Barima was treated as the boundary between Dutch and Spanish territory, with the west bank being the Spanish side.
In 1766, Gravesande complained to the Spanish Governor of the behaviour of certain outlaws residing west of the Barima. The Spanish Governor replied that he had no means of reaching the spot indicated, and felt the Dutch Governor had jurisdiction to take action against them.
There was little doubt that at this time there were Dutch plantations in the Aruka, a tributary of the Barima, and at Koriabo higher up on the Barima. In 1768, the Spaniards, secretly and without previous complaint, made a raid upon Barima and destroyed a Dutch plantation, which was probably on the Aruka, but they did not themselves hold or occupy that river district.