498 years have passed since, on December 26, the Spanish conqueror Hernán Cortés founded the Villa de Santiesteban del Puerto, in what is now known as Pánuco, and it became the third Spanish settlement on the American continent.
It is the oldest municipality of the Huasteca, which is considered the cradle of the huapango in Mexico, it is the gateway to the north of the state of Veracruz, with a historical wealth due to the archaeological remains that are still found in the patios of those houses that have been built throughout the area.
The city of Panuco was part of the oil boom, a boom time after the discovery in 1901 of wells exploited by Edward L. Doheny’s Huasteca Petroleum Company.
This adventurer had already explored numerous gold mines in the state of California and was the first to conduct soil investigations for the exploitation of the so-called black gold both in the Veracruz municipality and in the port of Tampico.
At present, almost half a millennium after its creation, the municipality has a population of 97,290 inhabitants, most of which are forced to emigrate due to the lack of opportunities, since there is hardly a sugar mill in the city and a mining company.
The field stopped being profitable for farmers and ranchers. Pánuco is part of a region that includes a declaration of a metropolitan area (together with Tampico, Madero, Altamira, Tamaulipas, and Pueblo Viejo, Veracruz) but that faces a historical lag because, for the government of Veracruz, the state ends in the municipality of Tuxpan, affirms the cultural promoter of the Huasteca, Eloísa Hernández Mateos.
The historical neglect and lack of progress have forced the families of Panuco to seek job opportunities in the neighboring city of Tampico, from where it has the main influence in almost all areas, to the extent that it seems more like a city from Tamaulipas than from Veracruz.
The huapango, the zacahuil, and the Xantolo have carried the name of Pánuco to all corners of the world, due to the cultural and gastronomic contribution they offer and which is very attractive to those who know it.
A vast land
Pánuco has an area of 3,171.23 square kilometers, which represents 4.42% of the total of Veracruz territory.
It is bathed by the Pánuco and Tamesí rivers, which mark the border between Veracruz and Tamaulipas. It has a House of Culture, installed since 1992, which was originally inaugurated in 1910 as the property of the Spanish merchant Francisco Maza Abascal and which was administered by the so-called “king of Huapango” Raúl Pazzi Sequera, who died on December 22, 2018, at the age of 90.
The property offers permanent exhibitions: the first is made up of a collection of archaeological pieces from the Huasteca culture, which were located in the municipality itself, and a photographic recovery on the history of Pánuco.
Chroniclers and historians relate that Hernán Cortés proceeded in 1522 to mark the streets, blocks, and lots that would house the royal and ecclesiastical houses and the main square; the blocks were given 100 varas per side and the streets 20 varas wide, while the lots were 20 x 50 varas and only measured eight apples.
He placed the square as the center of the town and pointed out the main streets: San Esteban, today known as Zarco, Santo Santiago, which was later named Benito Juárez, and San Miguel, which took the name of Lerdo.
Before the colonial foundation
The antecedent of the colonial foundation of what is now Pánuco dates back to the year 1519 when Hernán Cortés made landfall for the first time on the coasts of Veracruz and where he founded the first town hall in Continental America that he baptized as the Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz, narrates the chronicler Luis Enrique Pérez.
He points out that from there, he ventured towards the center of what is now Mexico, precisely by making a series of coalitions with the natives of the Amerindian peoples of Nahuatl origin, who in turn did not agree with the triple alliance that they headed the Aztecs in the so-called Mesoamerica.
“Hernán Cortés made the first alliances with the Totonacs from the center of Veracruz and later with the Tlaxcalans, who were groups that could not be subdued by the Aztec empire.
“So obviously they found in those alliances the opportunity to emancipate themselves and have their kingdoms.”
With the fall of Tenochtitlan and the fruitful alliance that the Spanish conqueror established with the Tlaxcalans, with the support of his translator Mrs. Marina, known as La Malinche, he continued with his colonial expansion, particularly to the northeast of the current Mexican territory where what is located is located. now it is Pánuco.
The chronicler adds that the idea of Hernán Cortés was to consolidate his itinerary of conquest to the largest number of colonized regions, to be able to hand over control of the new lands to the King of Spain, Carlos V.
This feeling of a search for more wealth propitiates, towards the year 1522, that he goes to the part that is now Pánuco, to take possession of the region with the support of those alliances that he made with the Amerindian peoples, who knew perfectly the routes, roads, which helped him in the conquest.
Start a new facet of history …
Officially, December 26, 1522, is considered the founding date of the Spanish town baptized as Santiesteban del Puerto, the day in honor of the Christian protomartyr who was stoned to death.
It is said that Hernán Cortés proceeded to appoint Pedro de Vallejo as the manager of Pánuco, and it was from that moment that various events occurred; The one with the greatest impact of that colonial period was the arrival of Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán as governor in the year 1527, who exercised subjection to the indigenous people to the extent that he captured them to sell them as slaves or exchange them for horses and cows for the simple fact that they found no other source of wealth.
The first bishop of Mexico, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, upon realizing the aberrations that Beltrán de Guzmán carried out against the Mexican natives, sent a letter to King Carlos V, in which he denounced and described the atrocities of the former governor of Santisteban del Port against the natives of the area.