Hope Portocarrero

Hope Portocarrero, also known as Madame Somoza (June 28, 1929 – 5 October 1991) was the wife of dictator and president of Nicaragua Anastasio Somoza Debayle and, beginning in 1967, First Lady of Nicaragua for a time. In 1968 she was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame. She was the mother of Anastasio Somoza Portocarrero and four other children.

Hope Portocarrero
Hope Portocarrero de Somoza & Cardinal Francis Spellman.png
Madame Hope Somoza & Cardinal Francis Spellman at a reception in New York
First Lady of Nicaragua
In Role
1 December 1974 – 17 July 1979
PresidentAnastasio Somoza Debayle
Preceded byVacant
Succeeded byMaria Luisa Muñoz
In Role
1 May 1967 – 1 May 1972
PresidentAnastasio Somoza Debayle
Preceded byCarmen Reñazco (1966)
Succeeded byVacant
Personal details
Born28 June 1929
Tampa, Florida, United States
Died5 October 1991(1991-10-05) (aged 62)
Miami, Florida, United States
Spouse(s)Anastasio Somoza Debayle
Archie Angelo Baldocchi
ChildrenAnastasio, Julio, Carolina, Carla, and Roberto
ParentsNestor Portocarrero Gross (father)
Blanca Debayle Sacasa de Portocarrero (mother)
Alma materBarnard College (1950)
OccupationFirst Lady of Nicaragua

Early lifeEdit

Born in 1929 in Tampa, Florida, Hope Portocarrero was the daughter of Dr. Nestor Portocarrero Gross and Blanca DeBayle Sacasa de Portocarrero. She had one brother, Nestor.

She was of Spanish, French and Nicaraguan descent. Her grandfather was Dr. Luis Henri DeBayle Pallais, and married to Casimira Sacasa Sacasa. He was a good friend of Rubén Darío. Her maternal great-grandfather was Roberto Sacasa Sarria, former President of Nicaragua. The DeBayles and Portocarreros were among Nicaragua's wealthiest families.

She spoke fluent English, Italian, Spanish, and French and had an appreciation for art and culture. After 1943, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she often spent time with her cousin Lillian Sevilla-Sacasa (née Somoza). She attended Barnard College of Columbia University and was in the class of 1950.[1] Portocarrero spent the summer of 1949 traveling in Europe accompanied by her mother.


Portocarrero and her cousin Anastasio Somoza Debayle were married on 10 December 1950 in Managua's Cathedral by Archbishop José Antonio Lezcano. Over 4,000 guests attended the ceremony. The reception was given by her father-in-law, President Anastasio Somoza García, in the luxurious and modern Palacio de Comunicaciones. The couple traveled to South America for their honeymoon.

The Somozas had five children: Anastasio, Julio, Carolina, Carla, and Roberto Somoza Portocarrero. Her daughter, Carolina, is married to James Minskoff Sterling, son of New York real estate developer Henry H. Minskoff and his wife.[2]

First Lady of NicaraguaEdit

When her husband became president of Nicaragua in 1967, Portocarrero became the First Lady. She was covered in the media for her fashionable wardrobe. During her husband's time in office, she served as a hostess for many state visits, among them U.S. President Richard Nixon and Japanese Emperor Hirohito.

Somoza was also president of the Junta Nacional de Asistencia y Previsión Social (National Social Security). She created the National Cultural Center, the General Archives of the National Library, National Conservatory of Music, National School of Fine Arts (Bellas Artes), National Museum, and Plurar Gallery. Her biggest legacies were the construction of Teatro Nacional Rubén Darío (The National Theater of Nicaragua), the Children's Hospital, a clinic for Nicaraguan women, and a Center for Orphans, known as "The Hope".

Final yearsEdit

Due to continuing marital strife, her husband Anastasio began a relationship with a mistress, Dinorah Sampson. Portocarrero later relocated to London. Since the couple were Catholic, she never divorced Somoza. A year after he died, she married Archie Baldocchi, a wealthy American businessman. She died of cancer in Miami, Florida on 5 October 1991.


  1. ^ "Barnard Alumnae Magazine, Fall 1966 | Barnard Digital Collections". digitalcollections.barnard.edu. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  2. ^ "Miss Somoza Wed to Dr. J. M. Sterling", New York Times, October 16, 1984

External linksEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Death of Somoza by Claribel Alegria and Darwin J. Flakoll
  • La saga de los Somoza by Agustin Torres Lazo
  • Somoza Falling by Anthony Lake