Chaco War
The Chaco War was fought between Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

 and Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

 over control of the northern part of the Gran Chaco
Gran Chaco
The Gran Chaco is a sparsely populated, hot and semi-arid lowland region of the Río de la Plata basin, divided among eastern Bolivia, Paraguay, northern Argentina and a portion of the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, where it is connected with the Pantanal region...

 region (known as Chaco Boreal) of South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

, which was incorrectly thought to be rich in oil
An oil is any substance that is liquid at ambient temperatures and does not mix with water but may mix with other oils and organic solvents. This general definition includes vegetable oils, volatile essential oils, petrochemical oils, and synthetic oils....

. It is also referred to as La Guerra de la Sed (Spanish for "War of Thirst") in literary circles for being fought in the semi-arid
A semi-arid climate or steppe climate describes climatic regions that receive precipitation below potential evapotranspiration, but not extremely...

 Chaco. The war was the bloodiest military conflict fought in South America during the 20th century. The war pitted two of South America's poorest countries, both having previously lost territories to neighbors in wars during the 19th century. During the war both countries faced difficulties in obtaining arms and other supplies since their landlocked situation made their foreign trade and arms purchases dependent on the willingness of neighboring countries to let them pass by. In particular Bolivia faced external trade problems coupled with poor internal communications
Internal communications
Internal communications is the function responsible for effective communication among participants within an organization.A relatively young profession, IC draws on the theory and practice of related professions, not least journalism, knowledge management, public relations, media relations,...

. While Bolivia had income from lucrative mining and a better equipped and larger army than Paraguay, a series of factors turned the tide in favour of Paraguay which came by the end of the war to control most of the disputed zone, and was finally also granted two-thirds of the disputed territories in the peace treaties.


Though the region was sparsely populated, control of the Paraguay River
Paraguay River
The Paraguay River is a major river in south central South America, running through Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina...

 running through it would have given one of the two landlocked countries access to the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. This was especially important to Bolivia, which had lost its Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 coast to Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 in the War of the Pacific
War of the Pacific
The War of the Pacific took place in western South America from 1879 through 1883. Chile fought against Bolivia and Peru. Despite cooperation among the three nations in the war against Spain, disputes soon arose over the mineral-rich Peruvian provinces of Tarapaca, Tacna, and Arica, and the...


In international arbitration, Bolivia argued that the region had been part of the original Spanish colonial province of Moxos and Chiquitos to which Bolivia was heir
Uti Possidetis Juris
Uti possidetis juris is a principle of international law that states that newly formed sovereign states should have the same borders that their preceding dependent area had before their independence.-History:...

. Meanwhile, Paraguay based its case on the occupation of the land. Indeed, both Paraguayan and Argentine planters were already breeding cattle and exploiting quebracho woods in the area, while the small nomadic indigenous population of Guaraní
Guaraní language
Guaraní, specifically the primary variety known as Paraguayan Guaraní , is an indigenous language of South America that belongs to the Tupí–Guaraní subfamily of the Tupian languages. It is one of the official languages of Paraguay , where it is spoken by the majority of the population, and half of...

-speaking tribes was related to that country's own Guaraní heritage. As of 1919, Argentine banks owned 400,000 hectares of land in the eastern Chaco, while the Casado family, a powerful member of the Argentine oligarchy, held 141,000. The presence of Mennonite
The Mennonites are a group of Christian Anabaptist denominations named after the Frisian Menno Simons , who, through his writings, articulated and thereby formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders...

 colonies in the Chaco, who settled there under the auspices of the Paraguayan Parliament, was another factor in favour of Paraguay's claim.

Furthermore, the discovery of oil in the Andean foothills sparked speculation that the Chaco itself might be a rich source of petroleum. Foreign oil companies were involved in the exploration: companies mainly descended from Standard Oil
Standard Oil
Standard Oil was a predominant American integrated oil producing, transporting, refining, and marketing company. Established in 1870 as a corporation in Ohio, it was the largest oil refiner in the world and operated as a major company trust and was one of the world's first and largest multinational...

 backed Bolivia, while Shell Oil supported Paraguay. Standard was already producing oil from wells in the high hills of eastern Bolivia, around Villa Montes.

Paraguay had lost almost half of its territory to Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 and Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 in the War of the Triple Alliance
War of the Triple Alliance
The Paraguayan War , also known as War of the Triple Alliance , was a military conflict in South America fought from 1864 to 1870 between Paraguay and the Triple Alliance of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay...

 and was not prepared to see what it was perceived as its last chance for a viable economy fall victim to Bolivia. Border skirmishes since 1927 culminated in an all-out war in 1932.

Prelude to the war

The first confrontation between the two countries dates back to 1885, when the Bolivian entrepreneur Miguel Araña Suarez founded Puerto Pacheco, a port on the upper Paraguay river, south of Bahía Negra. He assumed that the new settlement was well inside Bolivian territory, but Bahía Negra had been implicitly recognized as Paraguayan by Bolivia. The Paraguayan government sent in a naval detachment aboard the gunboat Pirapó, which forcibly evicted the Bolivians from the area in 1888. The incident was followed by two agreements -in 1894 and 1907- which were never approved by either the Bolivian or the Paraguayan parliament. Meanwhile, in 1905, Bolivia founded two new outposts in the Chaco, Ballivián and Guachalla, this time along the Pilcomayo River
Pilcomayo River
The Pilcomayo River is a river in central South America. At long, it is the longest western tributary of the Paraguay River. Its drainage basin is in area, and its mean discharge is ....

. The Bolivian government ignored the half-hearted Paraguayan official protest.

Bolivian penetration in the region went unopposed until 1927, when the first blood was shed over the Chaco Boreal. On 27 February, a Paraguayan army patrol and its native guides were taken prisoners near the Pilcomayo River and held in the Bolivian outpost of Fortin Sorpresa, where the commander of the Paraguayan platoon, Lieutenant Adolfo Rojas Silva, was shot and killed in suspicious circumstances. Fortín (Spanish for "little fort") was the name used for the small pillbox and trench-like garrisons in the Chaco, although the troops barracks usually were no more than a few mud huts. While the Bolivian government formally regretted the death of Rojas Silva, the Paraguayan public opinion called it "murder". After the subsequent talks arranged in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

 failed to produce any agreement and eventually collapsed in January 1928, the dispute grew violent. On 5 December 1928 Fortin Vanguardia, an advanced outpost established by the Bolivian army a few miles northwest of Bahía Negra, was overrun by a cavalry party, which captured 21 Bolivian soldiers and burnt the scattered huts to the ground. The Bolivians retaliated with an air strike on Bahía Negra on 15 December, which didn't cause too much casualties or damage. On 14 December, Fortin Boquerón, which later would be the site of the first major battle of the campaign, was seized by Bolivia at the cost of 15 Paraguayan lives. A return to the status quo ante
Status quo ante
Status quo ante is Latin for "the way things were before" and incorporates the term status quo. In law, it refers to the objective of a temporary restraining order or a rescission in which the situation is restored to "the state in which previously" it existed...

was eventually agreed on 12 September 1929 in Washington, under the pressure of the Pan American League, but an arms race had already begun and both countries were on a course of collision with one another.

Composition of the armies

Paraguay had a population only a third as large as that of Bolivia (880,000 versus 2,150,000), but its guerrilla style of fighting, compared to Bolivia's more conventional strategy, enabled Paraguay to take the upper hand. In June 1932, the Paraguayan army totaled about 4,026 men (355 combat officers, 146 surgeons and non-combatant officers, 200 cadets, 690 NCOs, and 2,653 soldiers). Both racially and culturally, the Paraguayan army was practically homogeneous. Almost all of the soldiers were European-Guarani mestizos
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

. In Bolivia, however, most of the soldiers were Altiplano Native Americans
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 of Quechua or Aymará descent (90% of the infantry troops), the lower-ranking officers were of Spanish or other European ancestry, and General Hans Kundt
Hans Kundt
Hans Kundt was a German military officer from a family of military officers...

 was German. In spite of the fact that the Bolivian army had more manpower, the Bolivian army never mobilized more than 60,000 soldiers, and never more than two-thirds of the army were on the Chaco at one time, while Paraguay mobilized its entire army. City buses were confiscated, wedding rings were donated to buy weapons, by 1935 Paraguay had widened conscription to include 17 year-olds and policemen. While both armies deployed a good number of cavalry regiments, these were actually infantry troops, since it was soon learned that the Chaco could not provide enough water and forage for the horses. Only a number of squadrons carried out reconnaissance missions at divisional level. In the course of the conflict, the Paraguayan factories developed their own type of hand grenade, the carumbe'i (Guaraní for "little turtle") and produced trailers, artillery grenades and aerial bombs. The Paraguayan war effort was centralized and led by the state-owned national dockyards, managed by captain José Bozzano
José Bozzano
José Alfredo Bozzano Baglietto was a military engineer and senior officer of the Paraguayan navy who designed the gunboats Paraguay and Humaitá that were used during the Chaco War in the key role of transport ships...

. The Paraguayan army received the first consignment of carumbe'i grenades in January 1933.

The Paraguayans took advantage of their ability to communicate over the radio in Guaraní, which was not intelligible to the average Bolivian soldier. Paraguay had little trouble in mobilizing its troops in large barges on the Paraguay river right to the frontlines, whilst the majority of Bolivian soldiers came from the western highlands, some eight hundred kilometers away and with little or no logistic support. In fact, it took a Bolivian soldier about 14 days to traverse the distance, while a Paraguayan soldier only took about four. The heavy equipment of Bolivia's army made things worse. The supply of water, given the dry climate of the region, also played a key role during the conflict. There were thousands of non-combat casualties due to dehydration
In physiology and medicine, dehydration is defined as the excessive loss of body fluid. It is literally the removal of water from an object; however, in physiological terms, it entails a deficiency of fluid within an organism...

, mostly among Bolivian troops.

Air and naval assets

The Chaco War is also important historically as the first instance of large scale aerial warfare
Aerial warfare
Aerial warfare is the use of military aircraft and other flying machines in warfare, including military airlift of cargo to further the national interests as was demonstrated in the Berlin Airlift...

 to take place in the Americas. Both sides used obsolete single-engined biplane
A biplane is a fixed-wing aircraft with two superimposed main wings. The Wright brothers' Wright Flyer used a biplane design, as did most aircraft in the early years of aviation. While a biplane wing structure has a structural advantage, it produces more drag than a similar monoplane wing...

 fighter-bombers; the Paraguayans deployed 14 Potez 25
Potez 25
|-See also:*Aerial operations in the Chaco War-References:Heinonen, Timo Heinonen: Thulinista Hornetiin, Keski-Suomen ilmailumuseon julkaisuja 3, 1992. ISBN 951-95688-2-4.-External links:* *...

, while the Bolivians made extensive use of at least 20 CW-14 Osprey. Despite an international arms embargo
Arms embargo
An arms embargo is an embargo that applies to weaponry. It may also include "dual use" items. An arms embargo may serve one or more purposes:# to signal disapproval of behavior by a certain actor,# to maintain neutral standing in an ongoing conflict, or...

 imposed by the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

, Bolivia in particular went to great lengths in trying to import a small number of Curtiss T-32 Condor II
Curtiss T-32 Condor II
|-Accidents and incidents:*On 27 July 1934, Swissair Condor CH-170 broke up in mid-air and crashed at Tuttlingen, Germany killing all 12 passengers and crew.-See also:-References:...

 twin-engined bombers masqueraded as civil transports, only to be halted in Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 during deliveries. At Ballivián, the last ever dogfight between biplanes took place.

The Paraguayan navy played a key role in carrying thousand of troops and supplies to the frontlines through the Paraguay River
Paraguay River
The Paraguay River is a major river in south central South America, running through Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina...

, as well as in providing antiaircraft support to transport ships and port facilities. Two Italian-built gunboats, the Humaitá and Paraguay ferried troops to Puerto Casado. On 22 December 1932, three Bolivian Vickers Vespa
Vickers Vespa
|-See also:*Aerial operations in the Chaco War-Bibliography:* Andrews, C.F. and Morgan, Eric B. Vickers Aircraft since 1908, Second edition. London: Putnam, 1988. ISBN 0-85177-815-1....

 attacked the riverine outpost of Bahía Negra, killing a Paraguayan army colonel, but losing one of the aircraft, shot down by the gunboat Tacuary
ARP Tacuary
The ARP Tacuary was a riverine gunboat in service on the Paraguayan Navy for almost a century. She was built in 1907 by T. & J. Hosking, Ireland, as the steel-hulled yacht Clover...

. The two surviving Vespas met another gunboat, the Humaitá, while flying downriver. Paraguayan sources claim that one of them was damaged. Conversely, the Bolivian army reported that the Humaitá limped back to Asunción seriously damaged. Shortly before 29 March 1933 a Bolivian Osprey was shot down over the Paraguay river, while on 27 April, a strike package of six Ospreys launched a successful mission from their base at Muñoz against the logistic riverine base and town of Puerto Casado, although the strong reaction of Argentine diplomacy prevented any further strategic attacks on targets along the Paraguay river. On 26 November 1934, the Brazilian steamer Paraguay was strafed and bombed by mistake by Bolivian aircraft while sailing the Paraguay river near Puerto Mihanovich. The Brazilian government sent 11 naval planes to the area, and its navy begun to convoy shipping on the river.

The Paraguayan navy air service was also very active in the conflict, harassing Bolivian troops deployed along the northern front with flying boat
Flying boat
A flying boat is a fixed-winged seaplane with a hull, allowing it to land on water. It differs from a float plane as it uses a purpose-designed fuselage which can float, granting the aircraft buoyancy. Flying boats may be stabilized by under-wing floats or by wing-like projections from the fuselage...

s. The aircraft were moored at Bahía Negra Naval Air Base, and consisted of two Macchi M.18
Macchi M.18
|-See also:-References:* Sapienza Fracchia, Antonio Luis: "La Contribución Italiana en la Aviación Paraguaya". Author's edition. Asunción, 2007. 300 pp....

. These seaplanes carried out the first night air attack in South America when they raided the Bolivian outposts of Vitriones and San Juan, on 22 December 1934. Every year since then, the Paraguayan navy celebrates the 'day of the Naval Air Service' on the anniversary of the action.

The Bolivian army deployed at least ten locally-built patrol boats and transport vessels during the conflict, mostly to ship military supplies to the northern Chaco through the Mamoré-Madeira
Madeira River
The Madeira River is a major waterway in South America, approximately 3,250 km miles long The Madeira is the biggest tributary of the Amazon...

 system. The transport ships Presidente Saavedra and Presidente Siles steamed on the Paraguay river from 1927 until the beginning of the war, when both units were sold to private companies. The 50-ton armed launch Tahuamanu based in the Mamoré-Madeira system was briefly transferred to Laguna Cáceres
Laguna Cáceres
Laguna Cáceres is a lake in Germán Busch Province, Santa Cruz Department, Bolivia. At an elevation of 150 m, its surface area is 26.5 to 200 km²....

 to ferry troops downriver from Puerto Suárez
Puerto Suárez
Puerto Suárez is an important inland river port and municipality in Santa Cruz Department, Bolivia. It is located 10 km west of the border with Brazil.-Location:...

, challenging for eight months the Paraguayan naval presence in Bahía Negra. She was withdrawn to the Itenez river
Guaporé River
Rio Guaporé is the name of a river in western Brazil along the Bolivian border. Its Bolivian name is Río Iténez.The river has its source in the Brazilian Mato Grosso circa 150 km northeast of Pontes e Lacerda. From this town on it flows in a westerly direction for about 120 km, where at...

 in northern Bolivia after the Bolivian aerial reconnaissance revealed the actual strength of the Paraguayan navy in the area.

Pitiantutá Lake Incident

On June 15 of 1932 a Bolivian detachment captured and burned to the ground the Fortín Carlos Antonio López at Pitiantutá Lake disobeying explicit orders by Bolivian President Daniel Salamanca to avoid provocations in the Chaco region. One month later, on July 16, a Paraguayan detachment evicted the Bolivian troops from the area. The lake was located at 21°19′38"S 59°44′12"W and had been discovered by Paraguayan explorers in March 1931, but the Bolivian High Command was unaware of this when one of their aircraft spotted the body of water on April 1932.
After the initial incident Salamaca then changed his status quo
Status quo
Statu quo, a commonly used form of the original Latin "statu quo" – literally "the state in which" – is a Latin term meaning the current or existing state of affairs. To maintain the status quo is to keep the things the way they presently are...

 policy over the disputed area and ordered the outposts of Corrales, Toledo and Boquerón to be captured. The three were soon taken over and in response Paraguay called for a Bolivian withdrawal. Salamanca instead demanded them to be included in a "zone of dispute". On a memorandum
A memorandum is from the Latin verbal phrase memorandum est, the gerundive form of the verb memoro, "to mention, call to mind, recount, relate", which means "It must be remembered ..."...

 directed to President Salamanca on August 30 Bolivian general Filiberto Osorio expressed his concerns over the lack of a plan of operations and attached a plan of operations focusing on a offensive from the north. At the same time Bolivian General Quintanilla asked for permission to capture two additional Paraguayan garrisons; Nanawa and Rojas Silva. During August Bolivia slowly reinforced its 4,000 men strong First Bolivian Army located in the zone of conflict with 6,000 men.

The breaking of the fragile status quo in the disputed areas of the Chaco by Bolivians convinced Paraguay that a diplomatic solution on agreeable terms was not possible. Paraguay gave its army general staff orders to recapture the three forts. During the month of August, Paraguay mobilized over ten thousand men into the Chaco region. Paraguayan general José Félix Estigarribia
José Félix Estigarribia
Marshal José Félix Estigarribia Insaurralde was a decorated Paraguayan war hero and President of Paraguay for the Liberal party. Educated as an agronomist, he joined the national Army in 1910 and spent time in Chile and in Saint Cyr's military academy in France for additional training...

 prepared for a large offensive before the Bolivians would have mobilized their whole army.

First Paraguayan Offensive

Fortín Boquerón
Battle of Boquerón
The Battle of Boquerón was a battle fought from September 7 to 29 in 1932 between the Bolivian and Paraguayan armies in and around the stronghold of Boquerón. It was the first major battle of the Chaco War...

 was the first target of Paraguayan Offensive. The Boquerón complex, guarded by 619 Bolivians resisted a 22-day siege against 5,000 Paraguayan troops. An additional 2,500 Bolivians attempted to relieve the siege from the southwest but were fought back by 2,200 Paraguayans that defended the accesses to the siege area. A few Bolivian units managed to enter Fortín Boquerón with supplies and the Bolivian Air Force
Bolivian Air Force
The Bolivian Air Force is part of the Military of Bolivia.-History:By 1938 the Bolivian air force consisted of about 60 aircraft , and about 300 staff; the officers were...

 dropped food and ammunition to the besieged soldiers. Having begun on 7 September, the siege ended when Fortín Boquerón finally fell on 29 September 1932.

After the fall of Fortín Boquerón, the Paraguayans continued their offensive and made a pincer movement
Pincer movement
The pincer movement or double envelopment is a military maneuver. The flanks of the opponent are attacked simultaneously in a pinching motion after the opponent has advanced towards the center of an army which is responding by moving its outside forces to the enemy's flanks, in order to surround it...

, which forced fractions of the Bolivian army to surrender. While the Paraguayans had expected to set a new siege on Fortín Arce, the most advanced Bolivian outpost in the Chaco, they found it in ruins. The 4,000 Bolivians that defended Arce had retreated to Fortín Alihuatá.

Bolivian Offensive

On December 1932, the Bolivian war mobilization had concluded. In terms of weaponry and manpower, the army was ready to virtually overpower the Paraguayans. General Hans Kundt
Hans Kundt
Hans Kundt was a German military officer from a family of military officers...

, a Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War I)
The Eastern Front was a theatre of war during World War I in Central and, primarily, Eastern Europe. The term is in contrast to the Western Front. Despite the geographical separation, the events in the two theatres strongly influenced each other...

 veteran, was called by President Salamanca to lead the Bolivian counteroffensive. Hans Kundt had intermittently sojourned in Bolivia since the beginning of the century, establishing good relationships with members of the Bolivian political elite. Before First World War he had being in service of the Bolivian army as a trainer and counselor, he enjoyed therefore a great prestige in Bolivia for having, to some extent, shaped the Bolivian Army, and also for his services in the army of the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

The Paraguayan Fortín Nanawa was chosen as the main target of the Bolivian offensive since the capture of it and then the Paraguayan command centre at Isla Poí would allow Bolivia to reach the Paraguay River
Paraguay River
The Paraguay River is a major river in south central South America, running through Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina...

, putting the Paraguayan city of Concepción
Concepción, Paraguay
- Sources :* –

 in danger. The capture of the fortines of Corrales, Toledo and Fernández by the Second Bolivian Corps were also part of Kundt's offensive plan.

On January 1933, the First Bolivian Corps began its attack on Fortín Nanawa. This stronghold was considered by the Paraguayans to be the backbone of their defenses. Former Imperial Russian officers Ivan Belaieff and Nicolas Ern (who were anti-communist Russians
White movement
The White movement and its military arm the White Army - known as the White Guard or the Whites - was a loose confederation of Anti-Communist forces.The movement comprised one of the politico-military Russian forces who fought...

 under the service of the Paraguayan army as the Head of the General Staff and frontline commander respectively) had focused greatly on the fortification of this fortín. It had zig-zag trenches, miles of barbed wire, and many machine gun nests (some embedded in the tree's trunks). The Bolivian troops had previously stormed the nearby Paraguayan outpost of Mariscal López, isolating Nanawa from the south. On January 20, 1933, Kundt, in personal command of the Bolivian force, launched six to nine aircraft and 6,000 unhorsed cavalry, supported by twelve Vickers machine guns
Vickers machine gun
Not to be confused with the Vickers light machine gunThe Vickers machine gun or Vickers gun is a name primarily used to refer to the water-cooled .303 inch machine gun produced by Vickers Limited, originally for the British Army...

. The cavalry unit's horses had previously died because of dehydration. However, the Bolivians failed to capture the fort and instead formed a defensive amphitheater in front of it. The Second Bolivian Corps managed to capture Fortín Corrales and Fortín Platanillos but failed to do so with Fortín Fernández and Fortín Toledo. After a siege that lasted from February 26 to March 11 of 1933, the Bolivian Second Corps aborted their attack on Fortín Toledo and withdrew to a defensive line built 15 km from Fortín Corrales.

After the ill-fated attack on Nanawa, and the failures at Fernández and Toledo, Kundt ordered an assault on Fortín Alihuatá. The attack on this fortín overwhelmed its few defenders. The capture of Alihuatá allowed the Bolivians to cut the supply route of the First Paraguayan Division. When the Bolivians were informed of the isolation of the First Paraguayan Division, they launched an attack on it. This attack led to the Battle of Campo Jordán
Battle of Campo Jordán
The Battle of Campo Jordán occurred during the Chaco War, with victory going to the Bolivians, who forced the Paraguayans to retreat towards Gondra, on losing Alihuatá and the supply route of the Saavedra-Alihuatá road....

, which concluded in the retreat of the First Paraguayan Division.

On July 1933, Kundt resumed the aim of capturing Nanawa and launched a massive frontal attack on the fortín, in what came to be known as the Second Battle of Nanawa
Second Battle of Nanawa
The Second Battle of Nanawa was a battle fought from July 4 to 9 in 1933 between the Bolivian and Paraguayan armies during the Chaco War. It was one of the bloodiest battles fought in South America in the 20th century, coming to be labeled as the "South American Verdun" by comparison with the...

. Kundt had prepared for the second attack in detail, using artillery, airplanes, tanks, and flamethrower
A flamethrower is a mechanical device designed to project a long controllable stream of fire.Some flamethrowers project a stream of ignited flammable liquid; some project a long gas flame. Most military flamethrowers use liquids, but commercial flamethrowers tend to use high-pressure propane and...

s to overcome Paraguayan fortifications. The Paraguayans, however, had improved and built new fortifications since the first battle of Nanawa. While the Bolivian two prongued attack managed to capture parts of the defensive complex, these were retaken by Paraguayan counterattacks made by reserves. The Bolivian army lost more than 2,000 men injured and killed in the second battle of Nanawa while Paraguay lost only 559 men injured and dead. The failure to capture Nanawa and the heavy loss of life led president Salamanca to criticize the Bolivian high command, ordering them to spare more men. The defeat seriously damaged Kundt's prestige. In September, Kundt resigned his charge as commander in chief, but his resignation was not accepted by the president. This fortín was later nicknamed the "Verdun
Battle of Verdun
The Battle of Verdun was one of the major battles during the First World War on the Western Front. It was fought between the German and French armies, from 21 February – 18 December 1916, on hilly terrain north of the city of Verdun-sur-Meuse in north-eastern France...

 of South America". Nanawa was a major turning point in the war, because the Paraguayan army regained the strategic initiative which had belonged to the Bolivians since the beginning of 1933.

Second Paraguayan Offensive

In August, Paraguay began a new offensive in the form of three separate encirclement movements in the Alihuatá area. The Alihuatá area was chosen because Bolivian forces there had been weakened by the transfer of soldiers to attack Fortín Nanawa. As a result of the encirclement campaign, the Bolivian regiments "Loa" and "Ballivián", totaling 509 men, surrendered. The regiment "Junín" suffured the same fate but the regiment Chacaltaya was able to escape encirclement due to intervention of two other Bolivian regiments.

The success of the Paraguayan army led Paraguayan president Eusebio Ayala
Eusebio Ayala
Eusebio Ayala was President of Paraguay from 7 November 1921 to 12 April 1923 and again from 15 August 1932 to 17 February 1936. He was a member of the Liberal Party. He was overthrown by Rafael Franco.- His Life :...

 to travel to the Chaco to promote José Félix Estigarribia
José Félix Estigarribia
Marshal José Félix Estigarribia Insaurralde was a decorated Paraguayan war hero and President of Paraguay for the Liberal party. Educated as an agronomist, he joined the national Army in 1910 and spent time in Chile and in Saint Cyr's military academy in France for additional training...

 to the rank of general. In that meeting, the president approved Estigarribia's new offensive plan. On the other side, the Bolivians gave up their initial plan of reaching the Paraguayan capital Asunción
Asunción is the capital and largest city of Paraguay.The "Ciudad de Asunción" is an autonomous capital district not part of any department. The metropolitan area, called Gran Asunción, includes the cities of San Lorenzo, Fernando de la Mora, Lambaré, Luque, Mariano Roque Alonso, Ñemby, San...

 and moved on to defensive and attrition warfare.

The Paraguayan army moved on to perform a large scale pincer movement against Fortín Alihuatá, repeating the previous success of these operations. 7,000 Bolivians had to evacuate Fortín Alihuatá. On December 10 of 1933, the Paraguayan army finished the encirclement of the 9th and 4th divisions of the Bolivian Army. After unsuccessful attempts to break through Paraguayan lines, 2,600 Bolivian soldiers had died and 7,500 Bolivian soldiers surrendered. Only 900 Bolivian soldiers, mostly from cavalry units, managed to slip away. The Paraguayans obtained 8,000 rifles, 536 machine guns, 25 mortars, two tanks and 20 artillery pieces from the surrendered Bolivians. The remaining Bolivian troops withdrew to their headquarters at Muñoz, which was set on fire and evacuated on 18 December. General Kundt resigned as chief of staff of the Bolivian army.


The massive defeat at Campo de Vía forced the Bolivians near Fortín Nanawa to withdraw northwest to form a new defensive line. Paraguayan colonel Franco
Rafael Franco
Rafael Franco Ojeda was President of Paraguay from February 17, 1936 to August 13, 1937. He was a member of the Febrerista Revolutionary Party....

 proposed to launch a new attack against Ballivián and Villa Montes, but was turned down as Paraguayan President Eusebio Ayala
Eusebio Ayala
Eusebio Ayala was President of Paraguay from 7 November 1921 to 12 April 1923 and again from 15 August 1932 to 17 February 1936. He was a member of the Liberal Party. He was overthrown by Rafael Franco.- His Life :...

 thought Paraguay had already won the war. A 20 days ceasefire was agreed between the warring parties on December 19 of 1933. On January 6 of 1934 when the armistice expired Bolivia had reorganized its eroded army, having assembled a larger force than the one involved in the first Bolivian offensive.

Third Paraguayan Offensive

By the beginning of 1934, Estigarribia was planning an offensive against the Bolivian garrison at Puerto Suárez, 145 km upriver from Bahía Negra. The Pantanal
The Pantanal is a tropical wetland and one of the world's largest wetland of any kind. Most of it lies within the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, but it extends into Mato Grosso and portions of Bolivia and Paraguay, sprawling over an area estimated at between and...

 marshes and the lack of canoe
A canoe or Canadian canoe is a small narrow boat, typically human-powered, though it may also be powered by sails or small electric or gas motors. Canoes are usually pointed at both bow and stern and are normally open on top, but can be decked over A canoe (North American English) or Canadian...

s to overcome them convinced the Paraguayan commander to drop the idea and turn his attention to the main front. After the armistice's end the Paraguayan Army continued its advance capturing the fortines of Platanillos, Loa, Esteros, Jayucubás and Muñoz. After the battle of Campo de Vía in December the Bolivian Army built up a defensive line at Magariños-La China. The Magariños-La China line was carefully built and was considered one of the finest defensive lines of the Chaco War. A minor attack by Paraguayans on February 11 of 1934 managed to the surprise of the Paraguayan command to breach the line forcing the abandonement of the whole defensive line. A Paraguayan offensive towards Cañada Tarija managed to surround and neutralize 1,000 Bolivian soldiers on March 27.

On May 1934 the Paraguayan Army detected a gap the Bolivian defenses that would allow to isolate the Bolivian stronghold of Ballivián and force its surrender. The Paraguayan Army worked at night to open a new route in the forests to make the attack possible. When Bolivian reconnaissance aircraft noticed this new path being opened in the forest a plan was set up to let the Paraguayans enter halfway the path to then attack them from the rear. The Bolivian operation resulted in the battle of Cañada Strongest
Battle of Cañada Strongest
The Battle of Cañada Strongest was a battle fought from May 10 to 25 in 1934 between the Bolivian and Paraguayan armies during the Chaco War. The engagement is considered the greatest victory of the Bolivian army during the war, and actually took place some 60 km southwest of Cañada Strongest, near...

 between May 18 and 25. Bolivians managed to capture 67 Paraguayan officials and 1,389 Paraguayan soldiers. After their defeat at Cañada Strongest the Paraguayan Army continued to attempt to capture Ballivián. Ballivián was considered a key stronghold among Bolivians mostly for its symbolic position as the most southeastern Bolivian position left after the Second Paraguayan Offensive.

On November 1934 Paraguayan forces once again managed to surround a Bolivian division at El Carmen. The Bolivian disaster at El Carmen forced the Bolivians to abandon Ballivián and form a new defensive line at Villa Montes. On November 27, 1934, Bolivian generals, frustrated by the progress of the war, forced President Salamanca to resign while he was visiting their headquarters in Villa Montes and replaced him with the vice-president, José Luis Tejada
José Luis Tejada Sorzano
José Luis Tejada Sorzano was a Bolivian lawyer and politician appointed by the military as president of Bolivia during the Chaco War...

. On November 9 of 1934 the 12,000 men strong Bolivian Cavalry Corps managed to capture Yrendagüé and begun to persecute Paraguayan forces in the area. Yrendagüé was one of the few places with freshwater in this part of the Chaco and while the Bolivian Cavalry Corps was marching towards Picuiba from Yrendagüé, a Paraguayan battalion managed to destroy all wells in the area so that on return the exhausted Bolivian troops found themselves without water and disbanded; many were captured and a great number died of thirst and exposure after wandering aimless around the dry forest. The Bolivian Cavalry Corps had previously been considered one of the best Bolivian units of the new army formed after during the armistice.

Last battles

After the collapse of the northern and northeastern Bolivian front, Bolivian defenses focused on the south to avoid the fall their war headquarters, and supply base of Villa Montes. The Paraguayans launched an attack towards Ybybobó closing off a porting of the Bolivian Army on the Pilcomayo River. The battle begun on 28 December of 1934 and lasted until the early days of January 1935.
1.200 Bolivians surrendered and 200 died in the combat while Paraguay only lost a few dozens among injured and killed. Some Bolivian soldiers were reported to have jumped into the fast-flowing waters of Pilcomayo River.

After this defeat the Bolivian Army prepared for a last stand at Villa Montes. The loss of Villa Montes would allow the Paraguayans to reach the proper Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

. The colonels Bernardino Bilbao Rioja
Bernardino Bilbao Rioja
Bernardino Bilbao Rioja was a Bolivian officer who served during the Chaco War . He pioneered the use of air forces in combat ....

 and Moscoso
See* Luis de Moscoso Alvarado, Spanish explorer* Mireya Moscoso, former President of Panama* Juan Carlos Moscoso, Salvadorean soccer player* Guillermo Moscoso, current MLB baseball pitcher* Gustavo Moscoso, Chilean soccer player...

 were left in charge of the defense of Villa Montes after other military leaders declined. On 11 January of 1935 Paraguayans encircled and forced the retreat of two Bolivian regiments. The Paraguayans also managed in January to cut off the road between Villa Montes and Santa Cruz.

Paraguayan commander-in-chief José Félix Estigarribia decided then to launch a final assault on Villa Montes. On 7 February 1935, 5,000 Paraguayans attacked the heavily fortified Bolivian lines near Villa Montes, with the aim of capturing the oilfields at Nancarainza, but were repelled by the Bolivian First Cavalry Division. The Paraguayans lost 350 men and were forced to withdraw to the north toward Boyuibé. Estigarribia claimed that the defeat was largely due to the mountainous terrain, where his troops were unused to fight. On 6 March, Estigarribia focused again all his efforts on the Bolivian oilfields, this time at Camiri
Camiri is a town in Bolivia, Santa Cruz Department, Cordillera Province. It is the seat of the Camiri Municipality. The town has an estimated population of 33,705 inhabitants,...

, 130 km north of Villa Montes. The commander of the Paraguayan 3rd Corps, General Franco, found a gap between the Bolivian First and 18 Infantry regiments and ordered his troops to fill it, only to become stuck in a salient with no hope of further progress. The Bolivian Sixth cavalry forced the hastily retreat of Franco's troops in order to avoid being cut off. The Paraguayans left 84 prisoners and more than 500 fatalities behind. The Bolivian army lost almost 200 men, although unlike their exhausted enemies, they could afford a long battle of attrition. On 15 April, the Paraguayan army pierced the Bolivian lines on the Parapetí River
Parapetí River
-References:*Rand McNally, The New International Atlas, 1993....

, taking over the city of Charagua
Charagua is a small town in the southern part of Bolivia. It is the principal village of the Cordillera province. Most inhabitants speak Guaraní. The city was briefly occupied by the Paraguayan army in April 1935, during the last stages of the Chaco War....

. The Bolivian command launched a counter-offensive which threw the Paraguayans back. Althought the Bolivian plan fell short of its target of encircling an entire enemy division, they managed to take 475 prisoners on 25 April. On 4 June 1935 a Bolivian regiment was defeated and forced to surrender by the Paraguayans at Ingavi, in the northern front, after a last drive attempt toward the Paraguay river. On 12 June the day the ceasefire agreement was signed Paraguayan troops were entrenched only 15 km from the Bolivians oil fields in Cordillera Province.

While the military conflict ended with a comprehensive Paraguayan victory, from a wider point of view it was a disaster for both sides. Bolivia's European elite forcibly enlisted the large indigenous population into the army, though they felt little connection to the nation-state, while Paraguay was able to foment nationalist fervour among its predominantly mixed population. On both sides, but more so in the case of Bolivia, soldiers were ill-prepared for the dearth of water or the harsh conditions of terrain and climate they encountered. The effects of the lower altitude climate had maimed the Bolivian army: most of the indigenous soldiers lived on the cold Altiplano at altitudes of over 12000 feet (3,657.6 m). They found themselves at a physical disadvantage when called upon to fight in sub-tropical temperatures at almost sea level. In fact, of the war's 100,000 casualties (about 57,000 of the total were Bolivian), more died from diseases such as malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

 and other infections than from the actual fighting. At the same time, the war brought both countries to the brink of economic disaster.

Arms embargo and commerce

Since both countries were landlocked, imports of arms and other supplies from outside were limited to what the neighboring countries considered convenient or appropriate.

The Bolivian army was dependent on food supplies that entered south-eastern Bolivia from Argentina through Yacuíba
Yacuiba is a city in southern Bolivia and the capital city of Gran Chaco Province in the Tarija Department. It lies three kilometers from the Argentine border. It has a population of approximately 80,000 and lies above sea level. ıt was part of Salta Province of Argentina until its cession to...

. The Bolivian army had great difficulty importing arms purchased at Vickers
Vickers was a famous name in British engineering that existed through many companies from 1828 until 1999.-Early history:Vickers was formed in Sheffield as a steel foundry by the miller Edward Vickers and his father-in-law George Naylor in 1828. Naylor was a partner in the foundry Naylor &...

 since both Argentina and Chile were reluctant to let war material pass through their ports. The only remaining options were the port of Mollendo
Mollendo is a town bordering the Pacific Ocean in southern Peru. It is located in the Arequipa Region and is the capital of both the Islay Province and the Mollendo District...

 in Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 and Puerto Suárez
Puerto Suárez
Puerto Suárez is an important inland river port and municipality in Santa Cruz Department, Bolivia. It is located 10 km west of the border with Brazil.-Location:...

 on the Brazilian border. Eventually, Bolivia had partial success after Vickers managed to persuade the British government to request that Argentina and Chile ease the import restrictions imposed on Bolivia. Internationally the neighboring countries of Peru, Chile, Brazil, and Argentina tried to avoid being accused of fueling the conflict and therefore limited the imports of arms to both Bolivia and Paraguay, although Argentina supported Paraguay behind the neutrality façade. Paraguay received military supplies and daily intelligence from Argentina. Argentina provided Paraguay with critical economic and military backing throughout the war.

The Argentine Army
Argentine Army
The Argentine Army is the land armed force branch of the Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic and the senior military service of the country.- History :...

 established a special detachment along the border with Bolivia and Paraguay in Formosa
Formosa Province
Formosa Province is in northeastern Argentina, part of the Gran Chaco Region. Its northeast end touches Asunción, Paraguay, and borders the provinces of Chaco and Salta to its south and west, respectively...

 in September 1932, under the name of Destacamento Mixto Formosa to deal with deserters of both sides and prevent any illegal boundary crossing by the warring armies, although the cross-border exchange with the Bolivian army was banned only in early 1934, after a formal protest of the Paraguayan government. By the end of the war, 15,000 Bolivian soldiers had deserted to Argentina. Some native tribes living on the Argentine bank of the Pilcomayo, like the Wichí and Toba people, were often fired at from the other side of the frontier or strafed by Bolivian aircraft, while a number of members of the Maká tribe from Paraguay and led by deserters who had looted a farm on the border and killed some of its inhabitants was engaged by Argentine forces in 1933. The Maká had been trained and armed by the Paraguayans for reconnaissance missions. After the defeat of the Bolivian army at Campo Vía, at least one border outpost, Fortin Sorpresa Viejo, was occupied by Argentine troops in December 1933. This led to a minor incident with Paraguayan forces.

Advisers, mercenaries and volunteers

A number of volunteers and hired personnel from different countries participated in the war on both sides. The high staff of both countries was at times dominated by Europeans. In Bolivia, General Hans Kundt
Hans Kundt
Hans Kundt was a German military officer from a family of military officers...

, a First World War Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War I)
The Eastern Front was a theatre of war during World War I in Central and, primarily, Eastern Europe. The term is in contrast to the Western Front. Despite the geographical separation, the events in the two theatres strongly influenced each other...

 veteran, was in command from the beginning of the war until December 1933, when he was relieved due to a series of military setbacks. Apart from Kundt Bolivia had also advice in the last years of the war from a Czech military mission made of WWI veterans. Paraguay had advice from two White Russian
White movement
The White movement and its military arm the White Army - known as the White Guard or the Whites - was a loose confederation of Anti-Communist forces.The movement comprised one of the politico-military Russian forces who fought...

 generals Ern and Belaieff; the latter was once part of General Pyotr Wrangel's
Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel
Baron Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel or Vrangel was an officer in the Imperial Russian army and later commanding general of the anti-Bolshevik White Army in Southern Russia in the later stages of the Russian Civil War.-Life:Wrangel was born in Mukuliai, Kovno Governorate in the Russian Empire...

 staff during the Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

. In the later phase of the war Paraguay would receive training from a large-scale Italian mission.

107 Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

ans fought on behalf of Bolivia. Three of them died from different causes in the last year of the conflict. The Chileans involved in the war enroled privately and were mostly military and police officers. These officers were partly motivated by the unemployment caused by both the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 and the turbulent conflicts in Chile in the early 1930s. Some of the Chileans officers went after the Chaco War to fight for in the International Brigades
International Brigades
The International Brigades were military units made up of volunteers from different countries, who traveled to Spain to defend the Second Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 1939....

 during the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

. The arrival of the first group of Chilean combatants to La Paz
La Paz
Nuestra Señora de La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia, as well as the departmental capital of the La Paz Department, and the second largest city in the country after Santa Cruz de la Sierra...

 sparkled protests from Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

 and led the Chilean Congress
Ex Congreso Nacional
The Former National Congress Building is the former home of the Chilean Congress. Congress met in this building in central Santiago until Salvador Allende's socialist government was overthrown by Augusto Pinochet's military coup d'état on September 11, 1973.During the Pinochet dictatorship,...

 on 7 September 1934 to approve a law that made it illegal to join the countries in war. This did however not stop the enrolment of Chileans in the Bolivian army and it has been argued that president Arturo Alessandri Palma secretly consented the enrolment to get rid of unwanted elements of the military.

The enrolment of Chilean military personnel in the Bolivian army caused surprise in Paraguay since Chilean president and General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo
Carlos Ibáñez del Campo
General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo was a Chilean Army officer and political figure. He served as dictator between 1927 and 1931 and as constitutional President from 1952 to 1958.- The coups of 1924 and 1925 :...

 had in 1928 supported Paraguay after the Bolivian reprisals for the destruction of Fortin Vanguardia. The Paraguayan press denounced the Chilean government as not being neutral and went on to claim the Chilean soldiers were mercenaries. On 12 August 1934 the Chilean ambassador in Asunción was called back in response to the official Paraguayan support of the accusations against the Chilean government in the press. Early in the war, however, a few Chilean officers had joined the Paraguayan army.

At least two Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

an military pilots, Benito Sánchez Leyton and Luis Tuya, volunteered for some of the most daring missions carried out by the Paraguayan Potez 25s, like the resupply of besieged forces during the battle of Cañada Strongest
Battle of Cañada Strongest
The Battle of Cañada Strongest was a battle fought from May 10 to 25 in 1934 between the Bolivian and Paraguayan armies during the Chaco War. The engagement is considered the greatest victory of the Bolivian army during the war, and actually took place some 60 km southwest of Cañada Strongest, near...

 and the mass air strike of the Bolivian stronghold of Ballivián on 8 July 1934. During the relief mission on Cañada Strongest, Leyton's Potez nº 7 managed to come back home despite having being hit by almost 200 enemy rounds.

Argentina was the main source of arms and ammunitions for Paraguay. The military attache in Asuncion, Colonel Schweizer, continued to advise the Paraguayan command well after the start of hostilities. But the more valuable contribution to the Paraguayan cause came from the Argentine military intelligence (G2), led by Colonel Esteban Vacareyza, which provided nightly reports on the Bolivian movements and supply lines running along the border with Argentina. Argentine WWI veteran pilot Vicente Almandoz Almonacid was appointed director of the military aviation from 1932 to 1933.

The open Argentine support to Paraguay was also reflected in the battlefield when a number of Argentine citizens largely from Corrientes
Corrientes Province
Corrientes is a province in northeast Argentina, in the Mesopotamia region. It is surrounded by : Paraguay, the province of Misiones, Brazil, Uruguay, and the provinces of Entre Rios, Santa Fe and Chaco.-History:...

 and Entre Ríos
Entre Ríos Province
Entre Ríos is a northeastern province of Argentina, located in the Mesopotamia region. It borders the provinces of Buenos Aires , Corrientes and Santa Fe , and Uruguay in the east....

 volunteered for the Paraguayan army. Most of them served in the 7 Cavalry Regiment "General San Martín" in the infantry role. They fought against the Bolivian Regiments "Ingavi" and "Warnes" at the outpost of Corrales on 1 January 1933, where they had a narrow escape after being outnumbered by the Bolivians. The commander of "Warnes", Lt. Colonel Sánchez, was killed in an ambush set up by the retreating forces, while the volunteers lost seven trucks. The greatest achievement of "San Martín" took place on 10 December 1933, when the First Squadron, led by 2º Lieutenant Javier Gustavo Schreiber, ambushed and captured the two surviving Bolivian Vickers 6 ton tanks on the Alihuatá-Savedra road, in the course of the battle of Campo Vía.


By the time a ceasefire was negotiated for noon June 10, 1935, Paraguay controlled most of the region. In the last half hour there was a senseless shoot-out between the armies. This was recognized in a 1938 truce, signed in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, by which Paraguay was awarded three-quarters of the Chaco Boreal, 20000 square miles (51,799.8 km²). Two Paraguayans and three Bolivians died for every square mile. Bolivia did get the remaining territory, that bordered the Paraguay's River Puerto Busch
Puerto Busch
Puerto Busch is located in the province of Germán Busch, Santa Cruz Province, republic of Bolivia on the Paraguay River in eastern Bolivia. It is named in honor of General Germán Busch, who fought in the Chaco War....

. Some years later it was found that there were no oil resources in the Chaco Boreal kept by Paraguay, yet the territories kept by Bolivia were, in fact, rich in natural gas and petroleum, these being at the present time the country's largest exports and source of wealth.

Paraguay captured 21,000 soldiers and 10,000 civilians (1% of Bolivians); many chose to stay after the war. 10,000 Bolivian troops had run away to Argentina or self-mutilated. Paraguay also took 2,300 machine guns, 28,000 rifles and ammunition worth $10 million (enough to last 40 years).

Bolivia's stunning military blunder during the Chaco War led to a mass movement known as the Generación del Chaco, away from the traditional order, which was epitomised by the MNR
Revolutionary Nationalist Movement
The Revolutionary Nationalist Movement is a Bolivian political party, perhaps the most important in the country during the 20th century. At the legislative elections in 2002, the party won, in an alliance with the Free Bolivia Movement, 26.9% of the popular vote and 36 out of 130 seats in the...

-led Revolution of 1952.

A final treaty clearly marking the boundaries between the two countries was not signed until April 28, 2009 in Buenos Aires.

Cultural references

Augusto Céspedes, Bolivian ambassador to the Unesco
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 and one of the most important Bolivian writers of the 20th century has written several books describing different aspects of the conflict. As a war reporter for the newspaper El Universal Céspedes had witnessed the penuries of the war, which he described in Crónicas heroicas de una guerra estúpida ("Chronicles of a stupid war") among other books. Several of his fiction works, considered masterworks of the genre, have also the Chaco War conflict as setting.
Another diplomat and important figure of Bolivian literature, Adolfo Costa Du Rels
Adolfo Costa Du Rels
Adolfo Costa Du Rels was a Bolivian writer and diplomat. He was born in Sucre, to a Bolivian mother and a French father. He won the National Prize for Literature in 1976...

, has written about the conflict, his novel Laguna H3 published in 1938 is also set in the Chaco War.

One of the masterpieces of Paraguayan writer Augusto Roa Bastos
Augusto Roa Bastos
Augusto Roa Bastos, was a noted Paraguayan novelist and short story writer, and one of the most important Latin American writers of the 20th century. As a teenager he fought in the Chaco War between Paraguay and Bolivia, and he later worked as a journalist, screenwriter and professor...

, the 1960 novel Hijo de Hombre
Hijo de hombre
Hijo de hombre is a novel by the Paraguayan author, Augusto Roa BastosRoa Bastos' first published novel, Hijo de hombre represents his definitive break with poetry. It portrays the struggle between the governing élite and the oppressed in Paraguay from 1912 until 1936, just after the end of the...

, describes in one of its chapters the carnage and harsh war conditions during the siege of Boquerón. The author himself took part in the conflict, joining the army medical service at the age of 17. The Argentine movie Hijo de Hombre, directed by Lucas Demare
Lucas Demare
Lucas Demare was an Argentine film director, screenwriter and film producer prominent in the Cinema of Argentina in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s....

 in 1961 is based on this part of the novel.

In Pablo Neruda
Pablo Neruda
Pablo Neruda was the pen name and, later, legal name of the Chilean poet, diplomat and politician Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. He chose his pen name after Czech poet Jan Neruda....

's poem, Standard Oil Company, Neruda refers to the Chaco War in the context of the influences that oil companies had on the existence of the war.

Howard Chaykin
Howard Chaykin
Howard Victor Chaykin is an American comic book writer and artist famous for his innovative storytelling and sometimes controversial material...

’s 2009 mini-series Dominic Fortune
Dominic Fortune
Dominic Fortune is a fictional comic book character, owned by Marvel Comics.Created by Howard Chaykin and based on the Scorpion, Chaykin's character for the failed Atlas/Seaboard Comics company, Dominic Fortune was originally a 1930s costumed, fortune-seeking adventurer.-Publication history:Dominic...

begins with the title character working as a mercenary pilot in the Chaco War.

The conflict inspired Lester Dent
Lester Dent
Lester Dent was a prolific pulp fiction author, best known as the creator and main author of the series of novels about the superhuman scientist and adventurer, Doc Savage. The 159 novels written over 16 years were credited to the house name Kenneth Robeson.-Early years:Dent was born in 1904 in...

 to write the Doc Savage
Doc Savage
Doc Savage is a fictional character originally published in American pulp magazines during the 1930s and 1940s. He was created by publisher Henry W. Ralston and editor John L...

 adventure The Dust of Death, also in 1935.

The Chaco War formed the backdrop for the 1935 film Storm Over the Andes, by Christy Cabanne
Christy Cabanne
Christy Cabanne , born William Christy Cabanne, was an American film director, screenwriter and silent film actor. Christy Cabanne was, along with Sam Newfield and William Beaudine, one of the most prolific directors in the history of American film.-Biography:Cabanne graduated from the U.S...

, and for the 2006 minimalist
Minimalism describes movements in various forms of art and design, especially visual art and music, where the work is set out to expose the essence, essentials or identity of a subject through eliminating all non-essential forms, features or concepts...

 film Hamaca paraguaya
Paraguayan Hammock
Paraguayan Hammock is a 2006 Argentine drama film directed by Paz Encina. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival....

, by Paz Encina.

Some aspects of the Chaco War are the inspiration for Tintin
The Adventures of Tintin
The Adventures of Tintin is a series of classic comic books created by Belgian artist , who wrote under the pen name of Hergé...

's comic book
Comic book
A comic book or comicbook is a magazine made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog as well as including...

 adventure The Broken Ear
The Broken Ear
The Broken Ear is the sixth of The Adventures of Tintin, a series of classic comic-strip albums, written and illustrated by Belgian writer and illustrator Hergé, featuring young reporter Tintin as a hero...

by Hergé
Georges Prosper Remi , better known by the pen name Hergé, was a Belgian comics writer and artist. His best known and most substantial work is the 23 completed comic books in The Adventures of Tintin series, which he wrote and illustrated from 1929 until his death in 1983, although he was also...

, which began publication in 1935.

A famous Paraguayan polka
The polka is a Central European dance and also a genre of dance music familiar throughout Europe and the Americas. It originated in the middle of the 19th century in Bohemia...

, Regimiento 13 Tuyutí, composed by Ramón Vargas Colman
Ramón Vargas Colman
Ramon Vargas Colman was born in the village of Tebicuarymí, a town close to Caballero, Department of Paraguarí, Paraguay, March 3, 1925 then Tebicuarymí belonged to the Department of Guairá....

 and written in Guaraní by Emiliano R. Fernández
Emiliano R. Fernández
Emiliano R. Fernández was born on August 8, 1894, in Yvysunu, Guarambare, Paraguay. His parents were Silvestre Fernandez and Bernarda Rivarola.-Childhood and youth:He is the author of more than 2,000 poems...

 remembers the Paraguayan Fifth Division and its exploits in the battles of Nanawa, where Fernández fought and was injured. On the other side, the siege of Boquerón inspired Boquerón abandonado, a Bolivian tonada recorded by Bolivian folk singer
Folk Singer
Folk Singer is a 1964 album by Muddy Waters. Waters plays acoustic guitar, backed by Willie Dixon on string bass, Clifton James on drums, and Buddy Guy on acoustic guitar...

 and politician Zulma Yugar
Zulma Yugar
Zulma Yugar is a Bolivian politician and folk singer with international recognition and influence. She serves as the current Minister of Culture of Bolivian President Evo Morales' second term....

 in 1982.

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