Whether he is viewed as a privateer, businessman, or pirate one thing is for certain: Miguel Enriquez’s career during the early 18th century was very eventful.
Branching Out and Business Methods
At the end of the 1700s and beginning of the 1710s, his fleet proved to be a thorn in the side of the British. He would eventually move beyond the South American coast and the Caribbean during the 1710s and attack along the coast of New England.
His expansion saw him deal in contraband even by Spain, the country he received his letter of marque. Enriquez teamed up with others in the same circles as a means of working around any potential penalties. He would also fake contraband capture using his own crew and allies so that the goods could be properly processed as spoils from privateering.
Miguel Enriquez managed to keep his operation together thanks to bribes, gifts, shows of good will, and ties to the Catholic Church. Ultimately, he was well connected and well protected which meant his business was mostly secure.
Juan de Ribera
Doing well and living well tends to attract enemies. The most significant of this period was Puerto Rico’s governor Juan de Ribera. Prior to Ribera being appointed, Enriquez ran a scheme that gave him a firm foothold in the Caribbean silver market. Ribera and Enriquez would get along initially with Enriquez plying him with money and ensuring his transport to the colony. Once he arrived in December 1713, that all changed as Ribera had played a long con on Enriquez.
He had prior knowledge of South American and Latin American trade. Ribera had also become familiar with how Enriquez ran his business before springing his biggest surprise on the businessman. He was going to stamp out privateering out of Puerto Rico. Not only that but he would move his own business associates into place to take over trade into and out of the colony.
To this degree, he would pluck the money previous governor Danio left for Enriquez to hold, doing damage to the privateer’s reputation in the process. The governor would also rally Puerto Rico elites to his cause of putting Enriquez out of business.
The two would go back and forth wrestling for the trade economy in the colony into 1716. On several occasions, Ribera forced Enriquez hand for different resources such as crew members, ships, and himself as a witness.
Things looked grim for the privateer’s business. Fortunately, the governor was under investigation. It appears that he stepped on one too many toes while accumulating power in Puerto Rico. His order to ban privateering was dropped and a few months later he would be booted from power. Replacing him was a few short-term governors.
Miguel Enriquez manages to get his business back on its legs in Puerto Rico but he’d still have a lot of trouble with political powers in the colony. His greatest foe Matias de Abadia would be responsible for dismantling Enriquez’s business empire in the end.