** national histories Latin America wars Latin American war War of the Pacific








Latin American Wars: War of the Pacific (1879-84)


Figure 1.--.

Boundary desputes emerged between the three countries. As Peru, Alto (Peru), and Chile were for a long period all part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, there was no need to carefully delimit borders, especially in the Atacama Desert which was though to be largely worthless territory. The discovery of mineral resources changed this. And as independent countries, defined national frontiers were needed. Bolivia at the time had a western province streaching through the Atacama Desert with a Pacific coast and ports. Bolivia was such a poor country, that it did not develop mines in the Atacama. Chilean companies with foreign financing did. The most valuable resource at the time was prehistoric deposits of guano. Before German chemists developed a chmical process for producing nitrates, the guano used for fertilizer was very valuable. The Brazilian Government allowed the Chilean companies to build the mines and both sides agreed to tax payments. The Bolivian Government pledged not to raise the taxes. Hilarion Daza seized power in Bolivia (1878). He was the illegitimate son of an Italian acrobat who emigrated to Bolivia. He proceeeded to raise taxes on the Chilean guano mines in the Atacama. The Chilean Government ordered its Army to seize the mines and the surrounding territiry. The Bolivians joined by their Peruvian ally. The more professional Chile military won both land and sea campaigns and occupied Lima. Peru lost its extreme south Tarapaca district and Bolivia its western outlet to the Pacific, leaving it land locked. This left Chile in control of the desolate, but mineral rich (nitrate and copper) Atacama Desert. It also left the Tacna-Arica issue unresolved which complicated relations with Peru and Bolivia through much of the 20th century. Chile return much of the territory Peru lost (1929), but not the Bolivian territory. While the market for guano declined, the Chileans found valuable copper deposits which is an important componet of the modern Chilean economy.

Boundaries

Boundary desputes emerged between the three countries. As Peru, Alto (Peru), and Chile were for a long period all part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, there was no need to carefully delimit borders, especially in the Atacama Desert which was though to be largely worthless territory. The discovery of mineral resources changed this. And as independent countries, defined national frontiers were needed.

Western Bolivia

Bolivia at the time had a western province called Atofagasta Province. It streached through the Atacama Desert with a Pacific coast and ports.

Boundary Treaty

Bolivia and Chile negotiated a boundary treaty. This set the frontier as the 24th parallel, but included a provision allowing Chile the right to share the export taxes on the mineral resources of Bolivia's territory between the 23rd and 24th parallels. Bolivia gradually becamnme dissatisfied with its share of the taxes or even sharing them at all. It also feared the growing Chilean influence in its coastal region.

Chilean Guano Mines

Bolivia was such a poor country, that it did not develop mines in the Atacama. Chilean companies with foreign financing did. The most valuable resource at the time was prehistoric deposits of guano. Before German chemists developed a chmical process for producing nitrates, the guano used for fertilizer was very valuable. The Brazilian Government allowed the Chilean companies to build the mines and both sides agreed to tax payments. The Bolivian Government pledged not to raise the taxes.

Bolivian-Peruvian Treaty (1873)

Peru was not directly involved in the guano dispute. It did see Chile as a rival. Bolivia and Peru signed a secret treaty (1873). The Treaty provided mutual guarantee of their respective territories and independence.

Bolivian-Chilean Treaty (1874)

The growing dispute between Bolivia and Chile over the Atacama were seemily defused diplomatically. Negotiators revised the boundary treaty. Chile gave up its share of export taxes on minerals shipped through Bolivian ports. Bolivia in return agreed not to raise taxes on Chilean companies in Bolivia for 25 years.

Hilarion Daza

Hilarion Daza seized power in Bolivia (1878). He was the illegitimate son of an Italian acrobat who emigrated to Bolivia. He proceeeded to raise taxes on the Chilean guano mines in the Atacama. The specific issue was the Chilean Antofagasta Nitrate Company. The Chilean government protested the Bolivian action. President Daza threatened to seize and confiscate the company's property, As a result of the disaster which ensued, Daza was overthrown. He took off for Europe with most of the Bolivian treasury.

Chileans Seize Anyofagasta

The Chilean Government decided that President Daza would not honor his country's treaty commitments. And that no matter what concessions would made, within a few years the Bolivians would just demand more. Boliviawas at the time politically unstable anf Governments came and sent every few years. The Chilean Government orderef its military to seize the port of Antofagasta (February 14, 1879).

Declaratin of War

Bolivia reponded by declared war on Chile and called for Peruvian assistance. Chile declared war on both Peru and Bolivia (April 5, 1879).

Campaigns

The Bolivians joined by their Peruvian ally. The more professional Chile military won both land and sea campaigns and occupied Lima.

Antofagasta

Chile occupied the Bolivian coastal region (Antofagasta province).

Naval campaign

Chile won Naval battles at Iquique (May 21, 1879) and Angamos (October 8, 1879). This essentially cut off Peru from the rest of the world. Asa result, the country could no longer import needed military equipment and supplies.

Land campaign

A Chilean army invaded Peru. The United States attemted to mediate the conflict, but failed (October 1880). Chilean forces occupied Lima (January 1881). Peru cotinued to resist the Chileans for 3 years.

Treaty of Ancón (1883)

The United States continued to mediate the conflict. Peru and Chile finally signed the Treaty of Anc�n (October 20, 1883). Peru ceded its southern Tarapacá province to Chile. Chile occupied the provinces of Tacna and Arica for 10 years. After this period a plebiscite was to be held to allow the population to determine their nationality. This did not occur. Chile and Peru failed to agree on the terms for conducting the plebiscite. This diplomatic dispute over Tacna and Arica became known as the Question of the Pacific.

Bolivian-Chilean Truce (1884)

Bolivia did not participate in the peace negotiations. But it could not fight a war with Chile on its own. A truce was finally areed to. This gave Chile control of the entire Bolivian coast (Antofagasta Province), with its valuable mineral resources.

Bolivian-Chilean Treaty (1904)

Bolivia and Chile did not formally agree to end the War until two decads later (1904). The Treaty formalized Chilean possession of Antofagasta. Chile agreed to build a railroad connecting the Bolivian capital of La Paz with the port of Arica. The Treaty guaranteed freedom of transit for Bolivian products through Chilean ports. Even so, the country never fully accepted the loss of Antofagasta. It continued diplomatic efforts.

Results

Peru lost its extreme south Tarapaca district. This included the ports of Tacna and Arica. The country sustained thousands of casualties and property destruction. Even after the War ended, a 7-month civil war broke out. The country was severely danaged economically and did not recover for decades. Bolivia its western outlet to the Pacific, leaving it land locked. This left Chile in control of the desolate, but mineral rich (nitrate and copper) Atacama Desert. It also left the Tacna-Arica issue unresolved which complicated relations with Peru and Bolivia through much of the 20th century.

Return of Peruvian Territory

Decades after the War, the Question of the Pacific (lost Peruvian territry) was settled. The United States helped mediate the sollution. Chile kept Arica; Peru reacquired Tacna and received a $6 million indemnity as well as other concessions. Thus Chile returned much of the territory Peru lost, but not the Bolivian territory.

Copper

While the market for guano declined, the Chileans found valuable copper deposits which is an important componet of the modern Chilean economy.

Chaco War (1932-35)

Bolivia's efforts to regain a sea outlet turned east and attempted to gain a port on the Paran�-Paraguay river system which led to the Atlantic. They also believed that the Gran Chaco, the desolate area to be seized, had oil deposits. This eventually led to the the far more bloody Chaco War (1932-35) with Paraguay. Bolivian nationalists, frustated that they had lost their Pacific ports did not dare attack more advanced Chile. They decided, however, to attack less developed Paraguay to obtain a port on the Paraguay River. This would give them an Atlantic port. Paraguy was a small, poor country with a poorly equipped army. The Bolivians assumed that their larger, better equipped army would easily defeat the Paraguayans. Rather than a quick campign, it proved to be a 3 year struggle that was the most deadly in South America during the 20th century.










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Created: 6:27 PM 2/7/2009
Last updated: 6:27 PM 2/7/2009