Diego Velázquez de Cuellar should not be confused with the Spanish painter Diego Velazquez.
Diego Velázquez was born in Cuéllar, in the Segovia region of Spain. He first visited the New World with the crew of Christopher Columbus in 1493. He settled in Hispaniola, then was active in leading the conquest of Cuba in 1511. He founded a number of new Spanish settlements and cities on the island, most notably Santiago de Cuba in 1514 and Havana in 1515. Velázquez was appointed governor of Cuba. He authorized various expeditions to explore lands further west, including the 1517 Francisco Fernandez de Cordoba expedition to Yucatan (see: Spanish Conquest of Yucatan). He initially backed Hernan Cortes's famous expedition to Mexico, but when Cortes tried to seize and claim Mexico for himself, Velázquez charged Cortes with exceeding his authority and ordered his arrest. Those sent to arrest Cortes were either defeated or persuaded to join Cortes, so Velázquez saw none of the riches which came from Mexico. Diego Velázquez de Cuellar died in Santiago de Cuba in 1524.