Salomón Ibarra Mayorga – Poet and Patriot

Born in the Nicaraguan municipality of Chinandega on September 8, 1887, Salomón Ibarra Mayorga was a poet and patriot, renowned for having written the lyrics of the Nicaraguan National Anthem Salva a ti, Nicaragua. As a strong advocate for peace and a promoter of the principles of democracy, Ibarra Mayorga was known for his patriotism and his non-interventionist stance with regard to foreign policy, holding the view that political rulers should retain diplomacy and avoid conflicts not directly related to self-defense of home territories. His beliefs are well expressed in his literary works.

Salomón Ibarra Mayorga was born into a household of deep thinkers, with his father, Felipe Ibarra, being an attorney, poet, philologist and at one time a teacher, during which time one of his students was the Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío. His mother, Eloísa Mayorga, came from a well-respected family which included a number of poets and writers.

Ibarra Mayorga received his education in the city of León, where he attended the Seminario Conciliar San Ramón. He started working as the accountant of the Colegio Mercantile de Occidente in 1909. In 1911 he founded the liberalist newspaper El Tiempo, by means of which he criticized the regime of Juan José Estrada, the President of Nicaragua between 30 August 1910 and 9 May 1911 who was instrumental in the fall of the liberal government under José Santos Zelaya, ushering in a conservative government supported by the United States. Shortly after founding El Tiempo and publishing his liberalist views, Ibarra Mayorga was injured in an attack believed to have been initiated by Carlos Pasos, an anti-intellectual agitator. This attack prompted him to join the Revolución Constitucionalista Liberal, an organization fighting against the dictatorship government of Adolfo Díaz and against intervention by the United States, resulting in him being exiled to neighboring Honduras where he remained for fifteen years.

In 1918 the government of President Emiliano Chamorro Vargas held a competition to compose the lyrics of a national anthem for Nicaragua. Using the nom-de-plume of Rómulo, Ibarra Mayorga submitted his entry, having taken great care not to anger the occupying forces of the United States, while at the same time being sure not to offend his fellow Nicaraguans by referring to the occupation, and getting across the message of non-interventionist patriotism he believed in. He won the competition, and his words, together with the musical arrangement by Luis A. Delgadillo, became the Nicaraguan National Anthem by executive order of President Anastasio Somoza García in 1939.

By this time, Ibarra Mayorga had returned to Nicaragua at the request of President Juan Bautista Sacasa, holding the government post as director of the national credit bureau until 1946. Other achievements Salomón Ibarra Mayorga is remembered for include his post as secretary of the local social assistance organization in the city of Managua, as well as being president of the Nicaraguan branch of the American Association of Writers and Artists, the Nicaraguan-Israeli Cultural Institute, and the Managua Rotary Club. He received the Rubén Darío National Prize from the Nicaraguan Teachers’ Union in 1949.

Having returned to Honduras following the earthquake in Managua in 1972, Ibarra Mayorga remained there until his death in 1985. In accordance with his wishes, his ashes now rest in the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura in Managua.