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Inspired by the possibility of riches, Ponce de León requested and received permission from Ovando to explore the island.His first reconnaissance of the island is usually dated to 1508 but there is evidence that he had made a previous exploration as early as 1506.Ponce de León was actively involved in the Higüey massacre, about which friar Bartolomé de las Casas attempted to notify Spanish authorities.Ovando rewarded his victorious commander by appointing him frontier governor of the newly conquered province, then named Higüey also.Once the war against the Emirate of Granada ended, there was no apparent need for his military services at home, so, like many of his contemporaries, Ponce de León looked abroad for his next opportunity.
Ponce de León decided to follow the advice of the sympathetic King Ferdinand and explore more of the Caribbean Sea.Ponce de León received a substantial land grant which authorized sufficient Indian slave labor to farm his new estate. He found a ready market for his farm produce and livestock at nearby Boca de Yuma where Spanish ships stocked supplies before the long voyage back to Spain.In 1505 Ovando authorized Ponce de León to establish a new town in Higüey, which he named Salvaleón.He was authorized to explore the neighboring island of Puerto Rico in 1508 and was named the first Governor of Puerto Rico by appointment of the Spanish crown in 1509.While Ponce de León grew quite wealthy from his plantations and mines, he faced an ongoing legal conflict with Diego Columbus, the late Christopher Columbus's son, over the right to govern Puerto Rico.
Thus, Ovando authorized the Jaragua Massacre in November 1503.