At some point in the seventeenth century, in the town of Diriamba which was then governed by the Spanish authorities and inhabited by indigenous and mestizo people, the theatrical comedy, El Gueguense o Macho Raton, was born. The play symbolizes a rejection of the Spanish colonial domination in a clever, comedic and creative way. Over time this theatrical work has been adopted as national symbol of the Nicaraguan people. Centuries later the UNESCO declared this marvelous work an “Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” and proclaimed it to be Patrimony of Humanity.

There are different theories regarding the date of origin. However, it is known that Nahuatl was the original language of the play and that the he play was originally presented as street theater.

At the time the people of Diriamba had already shown their inclination to oppose the Spanish Colonial domination. In the early 16th century a Spanish captain met with members of the indigenous population headed by the Chief Diriangén. Diriangen courteously received the foreigners and listened to their demands which invariably included total surrender to the Spanish crown and conversion to Christianity. After asking for a brief period for consideration, Diriangen and his men withdrew to plan a furious attack. This episode is considered to be the first war against foreign invaders in Nicaragua. Sadly, the vastly superior Spanish forces decimated the tribe of Diriangén and the survivors were subjected to the Spanish rule. It has been speculated that the descendants of these survivors might will be the creators of this play that celebrates a passive resistance against foreign rulers.

El Güegüense continued to be presented on the streets of Nicaragua and was orally bequeathed from one generation to the next. Remarkably, it wasn’t until 1942 that the piece was committed to writing and published as a book.

In present days the El Güegüense dances and presentations have become part of the cultural fabric of Nicaragua. Although professional folkloric ballets now also include the Güegüense dance in their repertoire, and many schools and theaters throughout the country regularly perform the entire play, the San Sebastian festivities in Diriamba during late January offer a unique chance to observe the El Güegüense play performed by descendants of its creators.