Álvarez De Pineda, Alonso
ÁLVAREZ DE PINEDA, ALONSO (?–1520). Alonso Álvarez de Pineda commanded a Spanish expedition that sailed along the Gulf of Mexico coastline from Florida to Cabo Rojo, Mexico, in 1519. He and his men were the first Europeans to explore and map the Gulf littoral between the areas previously explored by Juan Ponce De León and Diego Velázquez. Álvarez de Pineda’s voyage of “more than 300 leagues” ended when he encountered Hernán Cortés, who perceived him as a rival and arrested the messengers he sent ashore near Cortés’s base at Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz on the Bay of Campeche. Álvarez de Pineda then withdrew back up the Mexican coast to the Río Pánuco, where he established a settlement of his own near the site of the future city of Tampico. Despite his pioneering exploration, however, Álvarez remains a shadowy figure. The only original source connecting his name with the reconnaissance ordered in 1519 by Francisco de Garay, Spanish governor of Jamaica, is Bernal Díaz del Castillo, historian of the Mexican conquest. Díaz was present when Cortés confronted Garay’s four ships in late July or early August 1519 and relates that Álvarez de Pineda was in command of the vessels. Both Díaz and Cortés, who fails to mention the captain’s name, reveal that Álvarez de Pineda already had been in contact with the natives on the Pánuco, and Díaz says that he was settling there.