Hope Portocarrero

Hope Portocarrero, also known as Madame Somoza (June 28, 1929 – 5 October 1991) was the First Lady of Nicaragua, the wife of dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle and mother of Anastasio Somoza Portocarrero. She was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1968.

Hope Portocarrero
Hope Portocarrero de Somoza & Cardinal Francis Spellman.png
Madame Hope Somoza & Cardinal Francis Spellman at a reception in New York
BornJune 28, 1929
DiedOctober 5, 1991(1991-10-05) (aged 62)
Miami, Florida, United States
Alma materBarnard College
OccupationFirst Lady of Nicaragua
Spouse(s)Anastasio Somoza Debayle
Archie Angelo Baldocchi
ChildrenAnastasio, Julio, Carolina, Carla, and Roberto
Parent(s)Nestor Portocarrero Gross (father)
Blanca Debayle Sacasa de Portocarrero (mother)

Early lifeEdit

Born in Tampa, Florida, she 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 Nicaragua descent. Her grandfather was Dr. Luis Henri DeBayle Pallais, good friend of Rubén Darío, married to Casimira Sacasa Sacasa. Her 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 later attended Barnard College in New York City.


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 President Anastasio Somoza García in the luxurious and modern Palacio de Comunicaciones. They traveled to South America for their honeymoon.

The Somozas had five children: Anastasio, Julio, Carolina, Carla, and Roberto. Her daughter, Carolina, is married to James Minskoff Sterling, son of New York real estate developer Henry H. Minskoff.[1]

First Lady of NicaraguaEdit

In 1967 she became the First Lady of Nicaragua and was covered in the media for her fashionable wardrobe. 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 constructions of Teatro Nacional Rubén Darío (The National Theater of Nicaragua), the Children's Hospital, a clinic for Nicaraguan women and a Center for Orphans "The Hope".

Final yearsEdit

Due to continuing marital strife, Anastasio commenced a relationship with a mistress, Dinorah Sampson. Hope later relocated to London. She never divorced her cousin Anastasio. A year after he died, she married Archie Baldocchi, a wealthy Salvadoran businessman. She died of cancer in Miami on 5 October 1991.


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