The Tyrant of Clipperton Island

Clipperton Island is an abandoned atoll in the Pacific Ocean, 1,000 kilometers from the coast of Mexico. Its history is one of being passed from nation to nation as its value was explored and judged inadequate. Around 1910, Mexico sent 13 soldiers to guard the island. They were joined by their wives and some servants, and soon children were born. Another island resident was a reclusive lighthouse keeper named Victoriano Álvarez. Then in 1914, supply ships stopped coming. Malnutrition set in, and the men were the first to die. After an escape attempt cost three men their lives, only two soldiers remained, along with the women and children. And the lighthouse keeper.
Just then, Álvarez the hitherto-unassuming lighthouse-keeper abruptly arrived at the destroyed settlement, collected the weapons, and threw them into the deep waters of the lagoon. Saving one rifle for himself, he announced to the women and children that he was now the king of the island. With that, he began a campaign of enslaving the women for whatever purposes he desired. One mother-daughter pair who refused to obey him were raped and shot to death. The rest were given regular beatings at the minimum.

Two years later, in 1917, an American ship found the survivors: three women and eight malnourished children. They were taken to Mexico to be reunited with relatives who had given up all hope. The survivors told the story of what happened on the island, but the crew of the rescue ship kept the details secret for seventeen years, lest the women face legal consequences. But you can read the whole thing at Damn Interesting. Link

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