The Mexican National Anthem: An Art-Loving Dictator, A Captive Lyricist, And Spanish Musician

By | August 6, 2019

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Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (1795-1876), Mexican general. Source: (Getty Images)

At Mexican political ceremonies and sporting events such as the World Cup, don't be surprised if you hear a jaunty little ditty called "Himno Nacional." However, the Mexican national anthem's upbeat tune belies its bizarre history. It begins with a military dictator with a love of the arts and ends with the unlikely collaboration of a Mexican poet—held captive by his fiancé—and a Spanish musician. Here is how "Himno Nacional" came to be. 

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Santa Anna may have been a ruthless military leader but he was also a lover of the arts. Source: (

A Military Dictator

Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was the general who led the Mexican army in the defeat of the Texans at the Alamo during the Mexican-American War. He was a powerful leader with a narcissistic, boastful, self-aggrandizing personality. Because of his pride and lust for power, Mexico lost quite a bit of its territory during the war with the United States, but that didn't exactly temper his ego. He served four terms as the president of Mexico between 1833 and 1835, and after that, he transitioned to a military-backed dictator. He fell from power after the Texas Revolution and was exiled but staged a political comeback in 1839. Beginning that year, he served seven more terms as the president of Mexico, ending his reign in 1855.