José Joaquín de Olmedo

José Joaquín de Olmedo

José Joaquín de Olmedo y Maruri (Guayaquil, March 20, 1780 – Guayaquil, February 19, 1847) was a notable Ecuadorian poet, first mayor of Guayaquil, and former president of Ecuador. In his poetry, Olmedo emphasized patriotic themes. His best-known work is La victoria de Junín: Canto a Bolívar (1825; “The Victory at Junín: Song to Bolívar”), which commemorates the decisive battle won there by the forces of the liberator Simón Bolívar against the Spanish armies. It is considered by many critics the finest example of heroic poetry written in Spanish America.

“He who does not hope to win has already lost.”

famous saying by José Joaquín de Olmedo

Government assignments and posts

  • Olmedo was sent to Spain in 1811 to represent Guayaquil in the Cortes de Cádiz, the revolutionary parliament that promulgated the liberal constitution of 1812.
  • He was also twice mayor of Guayaquil
  • He was President of the Free Province of Guayaquil until it was united to Gran Colombia by Simón Bolívar against Olmedo’s will.
  • Ambassador to Paris and London after Ecuador’s independence.
  • Vice President of Ecuador from 1830 to 1831.
  • President of Ecuador from March 6, 1845 to December 8, 1845


  • In 1805 Olmedo earned a law degree from the University of San Marcos, Lima, Peru.


José Joaquín de Olmedo was the son of the Spanish Captain Don Miguel de Olmedo y Troyano and the Guayaquilean Ana Francisca de Maruri y Salavarría.


In 2008 Ecuador’s airport in Guayaquil was renamed the José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport. It was named “Best Airport in Latin America 2008 & 2009” by BusinessWeek.


  • During his life, he dedicated part of his time to the creation of novels, songs, poems, and other kinds of literary works. Among his most well known works are: Canto a Bolívar; Al General Flores, vencedor en Miñarica; and Alfabeto para un niño. He designed the flag and crest of Guayaquil and wrote the lyrics of its anthem.
  • In 1808 he was inspired to compose the prologue to the tragedy El Duque de Viseo de Quintana and his poem El Árbol, which he finished in 1809. El Árbol contains two parts: one that is philosophical and has great aesthetic sense, and one that is less carefully constructed which ends the poem. This makes it seem as if there were two distinct verses brought together.
  • In January 1811 he was still in Mexico and read his poem Improntu.
  • In the beginning of 1817 he traveled to Lima and wrote A un amigo, don Gaspar Rico….
  • In 1821 he wrote Canción al 9 de octubre, considered to be the first anthem of the Ecuadorian territory.
  • In 1823 in Lima he edited his 45-page translation from English of Essay on Man by Alexander Pope.
  • In 1825 he composed Marcha and the poem La Libertad.
  • In 1837 he wrote Canción del 10 de agosto, which served as a precursor to the current national anthem as demonstrated by Espinosa Pólit.
  • In 1840 he wrote En la muerte de mi hermana. In 1843 he edited Ocios poéticos del General Flores y una oda en su obsequio in 52 pages.
  • From then on his poems began to be published with great success. In 1848 a volume of Obras Poéticas, a collection revised and corrected by Olmedo, was released in Valparaiso months before his death. The second edition was issued in Paris in 1853, with 214 pages. There are later publications as well.

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