Civic Imagination


El Güegüense (also known as Macho Ratón) is a satirical drama and was the first literary work of post-Columbian Nicaragua. It is regarded as one of Latin America's most distinctive colonial-era expressions and as Nicaragua's signature folkloric masterpiece combining music, dance, theater and religion.

The Güegüense describes himself as a businessman who travels the different colonial territories of Mexico and Central America with fine goods. His children are his assistants. For some, the Güegüense is a hardworking and successful businessman who does not want to pay taxes to the government imposed by the Spanish crown. For others, the Güegüense is a tricky trader, who makes use of his thousand tricks to dupe the Spanish authorities that not only manages to avoid paying taxes, but also marry one of his sons with the governor’s daughter. 

Because deception for monetary gain is central to the plot of "El Güegüense", the play frequently is cited by newspaper editorials as a kind of symbolic archetype for perceived corrupt politicians or unaccountable public institutions. But I also see it as a symbol of indigenous resistance versus the colonizing traditions as well as a satire against any form of power. I got close to this tradition because it is performed on the streets of my city during the traditional religious parties of the town and my mom has a role helping to keep this tradition alive. In an interesting way the Gueguense also crosses religions, classes and cultures. 


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