in South America
fought from 1864 to 1870 between Paraguay
and the Triple Alliance
, Brazil, and Uruguay
. It caused more deaths proportionally than any other war in modern history
, and particularly devastated Paraguay, killing most of its male population.
Several theories exist regarding the origins of the war.
1866 Battle of Curupaity in the War of the Triple Alliance.
1869 Battle of Acosta Ñu: A Paraguayan battalion made up of children is massacred by the Brazilian Army during the War of the Triple Alliance.
1870 Marshal F.S. López dies during the Battle of Cerro Corá thus marking the end of the War of the Triple Alliance.
in South America
fought from 1864 to 1870 between Paraguay
and the Triple Alliance
, Brazil, and Uruguay
. It caused more deaths proportionally than any other war in modern history
, and particularly devastated Paraguay, killing most of its male population.
Several theories exist regarding the origins of the war. The traditional view emphasizes the aggressive policy of Paraguayan president Francisco Solano López towards Platine
matters. Conversely, the Paraguayan traditional view and Argentine revisionism since the 1960s give a preponderant role to the interests of the British Empire
. The war began in late 1864 with combat operations between Brazil and Paraguay; from 1865 onwards, one can properly refer to the "War of the Triple Alliance".
OverviewThe start of the war has been widely attributed to causes as varied as the after-effects of colonialism
in Latin America
, the struggle for physical power over the strategic Río de la Plata
region, Brazilian and Argentine meddling in internal Uruguayan politics, British economic interests in the region, and the expansionist ambitions of Solano López. Paraguay had had boundary disputes and tariff issues with Argentina and Brazil for many years.
The outcome of the war was the utter defeat of Paraguay. After the Triple Alliance defeated Paraguay in conventional warfare, the conflict turned into a drawn-out guerrilla-style resistance that devastated the Paraguayan military and civilian population. The guerrilla war lasted until López was killed on March 1, 1870. One estimate places total Paraguayan losses — through both war and disease
— as high as 1.2 million people, or 90% of its pre-war population.
A different estimate places Paraguayan deaths at approximately 300,000 people out of its 500,000 to 525,000 prewar inhabitants. According to Steven Pinker
the war killed more than 60% of the population of Paraguay, making it proportionally the most destructive war in modern times
It took decades for Paraguay to recover from the chaos and demographic imbalance in which it had been placed. What had been by name one of the first South American republics, Paraguay only chose its first democratically-elected president in 1993. In Brazil, the war helped bring about the end of slavery, moved the military into a key role in the public sphere, and caused a ruinous increase of public debt, which took one decade to pay, seriously reducing the country's growth. It has been argued that the war played a key role in the consolidation of Argentina as a nation-state
After the war, that country became Latin America's second wealthiest nation (Brazil being the first). For Uruguay, it was the last time that Brazil and Argentina would take such an interventionist role in its internal politics.
Paraguay before the war
(1813–1840) and Carlos Antonio López (1841–1862) developed quite differently from other South American countries. The aim of Rodríguez de Francia and Carlos López was to encourage self-sufficient economic development in Paraguay by imposing a high level of isolation from neighboring countries.
The regime of the López family was characterized by a harsh centralism without any room for the creation of a true civil society. There was no distinction between the public and the private sphere, and the López family ruled the country as it would a large estate of land.
The Paraguayan government exerted its control on all exports. The export of yerba mate
and valuable wood products maintained the balance of commerce between Paraguay and the outside world. The Paraguayan government was extremely protectionist, never accepting loans from the outside and, through high tariffs, refusing the importation of foreign products. Francisco Solano López, the son of Carlos Antonio López, replaced his father as the President-Dictator in 1862, and he generally continued the political policies of his father.
In the area of the military, however, Solano López modernized and expanded industry and the Paraguayan Army
in ways that would lead to war in the long run. The Paraguayan government hired more than 200 foreign technicians, who installed telegraph lines and railroads to aid the expanding steel, textile, paper, ink, naval construction, weapons, and gunpowder industries. The Ybycuí
foundry, completed in 1850, manufactured cannon
s, mortars, and bullets of all calibers. River warship
s were built in the shipyards of Asunción
This industrial and military growth required some contact with the international market, but Paraguay is and was a landlocked country. Its ports were river ports, and Paraguayan and other ships had to travel down the Río Paraguay and the Río Paraná to reach the estuary of the Río de la Plata
(shared by Argentina and Uruguay) and the Atlantic Ocean
. President Solano López conceived of a project to obtain ports on the Atlantic Ocean: he probably intended to create a "Greater Paraguay" by capturing a slice of Brazil
ian territory that would link Paraguay to the Atlantic coast. In opposition to this view of Paraguayan expansionism, during the 1960s and 1970s many historians claimed that the Paraguayan War was caused by pseudo-colonial influence of the British, who were in need of a new source of cotton due to the Civil War in the United States
. However, this claim is inconsistent with the results of other historical research; the claim of British influences has been disputed by several works of history that have been published since 1990.
To set about his expansionist intentions, López began to prepare a large army for Paraguay. He encouraged the development of war industries, mobilized a large quantity of men for the Army (mandatory military service had already existed in Paraguay), submitted them to intensive military training, and built fortification
s at the mouth of the Río Paraguay. He also set about building armed riverboats.
Diplomatically, Solano López wanted to ally himself with Uruguay's ruling Blanco Party
. The Colorado party
was connected to Brazil and Argentina.
In 1864, President López thought that the balance of power was threatened when Brazil got involved in Uruguay's internal politics and the struggle for leadership. This was the spark that led López to declare war
on Brazil. Argentina stayed neutral in this, and that country only declared war on Paraguay when it invaded the Corrientes Province of Argentina. This occurred when Mitre rejected the request that Solano made to use Argentine territory to move his troops to fight in Uruguay against Brazil.
Politics of the Río de la Plata
and Argentina had become independent, the fight between the governments of Buenos Aires
and of Rio de Janeiro
in the Río de la Plata profoundly marked the diplomatic and political relations between the countries of the region. Brazil almost entered into war with Argentina twice.
Brazil, under the rule of the Portuguese
, was the first country to recognize the independence of Paraguay in 1811. While Argentina was ruled by Juan Manuel Rosas (1829–1852), a common enemy of both Brazil and Paraguay, Brazil contributed to the improvement of the fortifications and development of the Paraguayan army, sending officials and technical help to Asunción
. As no roads linked the province of Mato Grosso
to Rio de Janeiro
, Brazilian ships needed to travel through Paraguayan territory, going up the Río Paraguay to arrive at Cuiabá
. Many times, however, Brazil had difficulty obtaining permission to sail from the government in Asunción.
Brazil carried out three political and military interventions in Uruguay — in 1851, against Manuel Oribe
to fight Argentine influence in the country; in 1855, at the request of the Uruguayan government and Venancio Flores
, leader of the Colorados
, who were traditionally supported by the Brazilian empire; and in 1864, against Atanásio Aguirre
. This last intervention would be the fuse of the Paraguayan War.
Intervention against AguirreIn April 1864, Brazil sent a diplomatic mission to Uruguay led by José Antônio Saraiva
to demand payment for the damages caused to gaucho
farmers in border conflicts with Uruguayan farmers. The Uruguayan president Atanásio Aguirre
, of the National Party
, refused the Brazilian demands.
Solano López offered himself as mediator, but was turned down by Brazil. López subsequently broke diplomatic relations with Brazil — in August 1864 — and declared that the occupation of Uruguay by Brazilian troops would be an attack on the equilibrium of the Río de la Plata region.
On October 12, Brazilian troops invaded Uruguay. The followers of the Colorado Venancio Flores, who had the support of Argentina, united with the Brazilian troops and deposed Aguirre.
Beginning of the war
. Paraguay declared war on Brazil on December 13 and on Argentina three months later, on March 18, 1865. Uruguay, already governed by Venancio Flores, aligned itself with Brazil and Argentina.
At the beginning of the war, the military force of the Triple Alliance was inferior to that of Paraguay, which included, according to revisionist historians, more than 60,000 well-trained men—38,000 of whom were immediately under arms—and a naval squadron of twenty-three steamboat
s (vapores) and five river-navigating ships, based around the Tacuarí, a gunboat. Its artillery included about 400 cannons. However, recent studies have shown a different picture. Although the Paraguayan army had somewhere between 70,000 and 100,000 men at the beginning of the conflict, they were badly equipped. Most of the infantry armament consisted of inaccurate smooth-bore muskets and carbines, slow to reload and with short range. The same applied to the artillery. The officers had no training or experience and there was no command system, as all decisions were made by López. Food, ammunition and armament were scarce and logistics and hospital care were deficient, if existent at all.
The armies of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay were a fraction of the total size of the Paraguayan army. Argentina had approximately 8,500 regular troops and a naval squadron of four vapores and one goleta. Uruguay entered the war with fewer than 2,000 men and no navy. Many of Brazil's 16,000 troops were initially located in its southern garrisons. The Brazilian advantage, though, was in its navy: 42 ships with 239 cannons and about 4,000 well-trained crew. A great part of the squadron had already met in the Rio de la Plata basin, where it had acted, under the Marquis of Tamandaré
, in the intervention against Aguirre.
Brazil, however, was unprepared to fight a war. Its army was unorganized. The troops used in the interventions in Uruguay were composed merely of the armed contingents of gaucho politicians and some National Guard staff. The Brazilian infantry who fought in the Paraguayan War were not professional soldiers but volunteers, the so-called Voluntários da Pátria. The army was heavily recruited from the landless, largely black, underclass. The cavalry was formed from the National Guard of Rio Grande Do Sul
. From the end of 1864 to 1870 about 146,000 Brazilians fought in the war while 18,000 members of the National Guard stayed behind in Brazilian territory to defend it. The 146,000 soldiers were: 10,025 army soldiers stationed in Uruguayan territory in 1864, 2,047 that were in the province of Mato Grosso, 55,985 Fatherland Volunteers, 60,009 National Guards, 8,570 ex-slaves who had been freed to be sent to war, and 9,177 navy personnel.
Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay signed the Treaty of the Triple Alliance
in Buenos Aires on May 1, 1865, allying the three Río de la Plata countries against Paraguay. They named Bartolomé Mitre
, president of Argentina, as supreme commander of the allied troops.
Paraguayan offensiveDuring the first phase of the war Paraguay took the initiative. The armies of López dictated the location of initial battles — invading Mato Grosso
in the north in December 1864, Rio Grande do Sul
in the south in the first months of 1865 and the Argentine province of Corrientes
Five thousand men, transported in ten ships and commanded by colonel Vicente Barrios, went up the Río Paraguay and attacked the fort of Nova Coimbra
. The garrison of 155 men resisted for three days under the command of lieutenant-colonel Hermenegildo de Albuquerque Porto Carrero, later baron of Fort Coimbra. When the munitions were exhausted the defenders abandoned the fort and withdrew up the river towards Corumbá
on board the gunship Anhambaí. After they occupied the empty fort the Paraguayans advanced north taking the cities of Albuquerque and Corumbá in January 1865.
The second Paraguayan column, which was led by Colonel Francisco Isidoro Resquín and included four thousand men, penetrated a region south of Mato Grosso, and sent a detachment to attack the military frontier of Dourados
. The detachment, led by Major Martín Urbieta, encountered tough resistance on December 29, 1864 from Lieutenant Antonio João Ribeiro and his 16 men, who died without yielding. The Paraguayans continued to Nioaque
, defeating the troops of colonel José Dias da Silva. Coxim
was taken in April 1865.
The Paraguayan forces, despite their victories, did not continue to Cuiabá
, the capital of the province. Augusto Leverger had fortified the camp of Melgaço
to protect Cuiabá. The main objective was to distract the attention of the Brazilian government to the north as the war would lead to the south, closer to the Río de la Plata estuary. The invasion of Mato Grosso was a diversionary manoeuvre.
, an ally of Brazil in the intervention in Uruguay — refused.
On March 18, 1865, Paraguay declared war on Argentina. A Paraguayan squadron, coming down the Río Paraná, imprisoned Argentine ships in the port of Corrientes
. Immediately, General Robles's troops took the city.
By invading Corrientes, López tried to obtain the support of the powerful Argentine caudillo
Justo José de Urquiza
, governor of the provinces of Corrientes and Entre Ríos, and the chief federalist hostile to Mitre and to the government of Buenos Aires. But Urquiza assumed an ambiguous attitude towards the Paraguayan troops. They advanced around 200 kilometers south before ultimately ending the offensive in failure.
Along with Robles's troops, a force of 10,000 men under the orders of lieutenant-colonel Antonio de la Cruz Estigarriba crossed the Argentine border south of Encarnación, in May 1865, driving for Rio Grande do Sul. They traveled down Río Uruguay and took the town of São Borja
on June 12. Uruguaiana, to the south, was taken on August 5 without any significant resistance. The Brazilian reaction was yet to come.
Reaction of Brazil
. A column of 2,780 men led by Colonel Manuel Pedro Drago left Uberaba
in Minas Gerais
in April 1865, and arrived at Coxim in December after a difficult march of more than two thousand kilometers through four provinces. But Paraguay had abandoned Coxim by December. Drago arrived at Miranda in September 1866 – and Paraguay had left once again. In January 1867, Colonel Carlos de Morais Camisão
assumed command of the column, now with only 1,680 men, and decided to invade Paraguayan territory, where he penetrated as far as Laguna. The expedition was forced to retreat by the Paraguayan cavalry.
Despite the efforts of Colonel Camisão's troops and the resistance in the region, which succeeded in liberating Corumbá in June 1867, Mato Grosso remained under the control of the Paraguayans. They finally withdrew in April 1868, moving their troops to the main theatre of operations, in the south of Paraguay.
Communications in the Río de la Plata basin were solely by river; few roads existed. Whoever controlled the rivers would win the war, so the Paraguayan fortifications had been built on the banks of the lower end of Río Paraguay.
The naval battle of Riachuelo
occurred on June 11, 1865. The Brazilian fleet commanded by Francisco Manoel Barroso da Silva
won, destroying the powerful Paraguayan navy and preventing the Paraguayans from permanently occupying Argentine territory. The battle practically decided the outcome of the war in favour of the Triple Alliance, which controlled, from that point on, the waters of the Río de la Plata basin up to the entrance to Paraguay.
While López ordered the retreat of the forces that occupied Corrientes, the Paraguayan troops that invaded São Borja
advanced, taking Itaqui
. A separate division (3,200 men) that continued towards Uruguay, under the command of major Pedro Duarte, was defeated by Flores in the bloody battle of Jataí
on the banks of the Río Uruguay.
The allied troops united under the command of Mitre in the camp of Concordia, in the Argentine province of Entre Ríos, with field-marshal Manuel Luís Osório at the front of the Brazilian troops. Some of the troops, commanded by lieutenant-general Manuel Marques de Sousa, baron of Porto Alegre, left to reinforce Uruguaiana. The Paraguayans yielded on September 18, 1865.
In the subsequent months the Paraguayans were driven out of the cities of Corrientes and San Cosme
, the only Argentine territory still in Paraguayan possession. By the end of 1865, the Triple Alliance was on the offensive. Their armies numbered more than 50,000 men and were prepared to invade Paraguay.
On September 12, 1866, López invited Mitre to a conference in Yatayty Cora. López had realized that the war was lost and was ready to sign a peace treaty with the Allies. No agreement was reached though since Mitre's conditions for rendition were that every article of the Secret Treaty of the Triple Alliance
was still to be carried out, a condition which López refused. Despite López's refusal, article 6 of the treaty not only rendered any possibility of truce or peace nearly impossible but also stipulated that the war was to continue until the current government ceased to be, which meant the death of López.
Caxias in command
Between November 1866 and July 1867, Caxias organized a health corps (to give aid to the endless number of injured soldiers and to fight the epidemic of cholera) and a system of supplying of the troops. In that period military operations were limited to skirmishes with the Paraguayans and to bombarding Curupaity. López took advantage of the disorganization of the enemy to reinforce his stronghold in Humaitá.
The march to outflank the left wing of the Paraguayan fortifications constituted the basis of Caxias's tactics. Caxias wanted to bypass the Paraguayan strongholds, cut the connections between Asunción
and Humaitá, and finally encircle the Paraguayans. To this end, Caxias marched to Tuiu-Cuê. But Mitre, who had retaken command in August 1867, insisted on attacking the right wing, a strategy that had previously been disastrous in Curupaity. Under his orders the Brazilian squadron forced its way past Curupaity but was forced to stop at Humaitá. New splits in the high command arose: Mitre wanted to continue, but the Brazilians instead captured São Solano, Pike and Tayi, isolating Humaitá from Asunción
. López reacted by attacking the rearguard of the allies in Tuyutí
, but suffered further defeats.
With the removal of Mitre in January 1868, Caxias reassumed supreme command and decided to bypass Curupaity and Humaitá, carried out with success by the squadron commanded by Captain Delfim Carlos de Carvalho, later Baron of Passagem. Humaitá fell on 25 July after a long siege.
En route to Asunción
, Caxias's army went 200 kilometers to Palmas, stopping at the Piquissiri river. There López had concentrated 18,000 Paraguayans in a fortified line that exploited the terrain and supported the forts of Angostura and Itá-Ibaté. Resigned to frontal combat, Caxias ordered the so-called Piquissiri manoeuvre. While a squadron attacked Angostura
, Caxias made the army cross on the right side of the river. He ordered the construction of a road in the swamps of the Chaco
along which the troops advanced to the northeast. At Villeta
, the army crossed the river again, between Asunción
and Piquissiri, behind the fortified Paraguayan line. Instead of advancing to the capital, already evacuated and bombarded, Caxias went south and attacked the Paraguayans from the rear.
Caxias had won a series of victories in December 1868, when he went back south to take Piquissiri from the rear, capturing Itororó
, Avaí, Lomas Valentinas and Angostura. On December 24 the three new commanders of the Triple Alliance (Caxias, the Argentine Juan Andrés Gelly y Obes, and the Uruguayan Enrique Castro) sent a note to Solano López asking for surrender, but López refused and fled to Cerro Leon.
Asunción was occupied on January 1, 1869 by commands of Colonel Hermes Ernesto da Fonseca, father of the future Marshal Hermes da Fonseca. On the fifth day, Caxias entered the city with the rest of the army, and 13 days later left his command.
Command of Count d'Eu
headed by Paraguayan Cirilo Antonio Rivarola
Solano López organized the resistance in the mountain range northeast of Asunción
. At the head of 21,000 men, Count d'Eu led the campaign against the Paraguayan resistance, the Campaign of the Mountain Range, which lasted over a year. The most important battles were the battles of Piribebuy
and of Acosta Ñu
, in which more than 5,000 Paraguayans died.
Death of LópezTwo detachments were sent in pursuit of Solano López, who was accompanied by 200 men in the forests in the north. On March 1, 1870, the troops of General José Antônio Correia da Câmara surprised the last Paraguayan camp in Cerro Corá
. During the ensuing battle, López was wounded and separated from the remainder of his army. Too weak to walk, he was escorted by his aide and a pair of officers, who led him to the banks of the Aquidabangui River. The officers left Lopez and his aide there while they looked for reinforcements, but while they waited for the men's return, General Câmara arrived with a small number of soldiers. Offering to permit López to surrender and guaranteeing his life, he refused and, shouting "¡Muero con mi patria!" ("I die with my fatherland!") he tried to attack Câmara with his sword. López was quickly killed by Câmara's men, thereby bringing a final end to the long conflict.
CasualtiesAt the end of the war and with Paraguay suffering severe shortages of weapons and supplies, López reacted with draconian attempts to keep order, ordering troops to kill any combatant, including officers, who talked of surrender. As a result, paranoia prevailed in the army, and soldiers fought to the bitter end. Paraguay suffered massive casualties, losing perhaps the majority of its population.
The specific numbers of casualties are hotly disputed. It has been estimated that 300,000 Paraguayans, mostly civilians, died. It has also been written that up to 90% of the male population may have been killed, though this figure is without support. According to one numerical estimate, the prewar population was approximately 525,000 Paraguayans (14 estimates went from 300,000 to 1,337,000; see F. Chartrain : "L'Eglise et les partis dans la vie politique du Paraguay depuis l'Indépendance", Paris I University "Doctorat d'Etat", 1972, pages 134–135. His own calculation based on a 1879 census and in the military forces, gives between 700,000 and 800,000 inhabitants). A 1871 census gave 221,079 inhabitants, of which 106,254 were female, 86,079 were children with no indication of sex or upper age limit and 28,746 were male. These figures, considering the local situation, cannot be more than a very rough estimate; many men and boys fled during the war to the countryside and forests. As such, accurate casualty numbers may never be determined.
A 1999 study by Dr. Thomas Whigham from the University of Georgia
published in the Latin American Research Review under the title "The Paraguayan Rosetta Stone: New Evidence on the Demographics of the Paraguayan War, 1864–1870" and later expanded in the 2002 essay titled "Refining the Numbers: A Response to Reber and Kleinpenning" give somewhat more accurate figures. Based on a census that was carried out after the war ended, in the years 1870 and 1871, Dr. Whigham came up with a much lower figure of 150,000–160,000 Paraguayan people left, of which only 28,000 were adult males. This leaves a woman/man ratio of 4 to 1, while in the most devastated areas of the nation the ratio was as high as 20 to 1.
Regarding the population before the war, Dr. Whigham used a census carried out in the year 1846 in order to calculate, based on a population growth rate of 1.7% to 2.5% annually (which was the standard rate at that time and again the aforementioned omissions), that the immediate pre-war population in 1864 was approximately 420,000–450,000 Paraguayans. This figure produces a loss of 60% to 70% of the population.
Of the approximately 123,000 Brazilians who fought in the Paraguayan War, the best estimates are that around 50,000 men died. Uruguayan forces counted barely 5,600 men (some of whom were foreigners), of whom about 3,100 died. Argentina lost around 18,000 of its 30,000 combatants.
The high rates of mortality, however, were not entirely the result of armed conflict. Bad food and very poor hygiene caused most of the deaths, many of which were due to cholera
. Among the Brazilians, two-thirds of the war dead died either in a hospital or on the march. At the beginning of the conflict, most of the Brazilian soldiers came from the north and northeast regions of the country; as such, the change from a hot climate to a colder one, along with restricted food rations, may also have been a contributing factor. Drinking water from the rivers was also sometimes fatal to entire battalions of Brazilians and made Cholera
the most likely chief cause of death during the war.
Consequences of the warThe internal political vacuum in Paraguay was at first dominated by survivors of the Paraguayan Legion. This group of exiles, based in Buenos Aires, had regarded Solano López as a mad tyrant and fought for the allies during the war. The group set up a provisional government in 1869, mainly under Brazilian auspices, and signed the 1870 peace accords, which guaranteed Paraguay's independence and free river navigation. A constitution was also promulgated in the same year, but it proved ineffective because of the foreign origin of its liberal, democratic tenets.
The Paraguayan villages destroyed by the war were abandoned and the peasant survivors migrated to the outskirts of Asunción
, devoting themselves to subsistence agriculture
in the central region of the country. Other lands were sold to foreigners, mainly Argentines, and turned into estates. Paraguayan industry fell apart. The Paraguayan market opened itself to British products and the country was forced for the first time to obtain outside loans, totalling a million British pounds. In fact, Britain can be seen as the power that most benefited from the war: whilst the war ended the Paraguayan threat to her interests, Brazil and Argentina fell into massive debt, establishing a pattern that continues to this day. (Brazil had repaid all British loans by the Getúlio Vargas
Brazil paid a high price for victory. The war was financed by the Bank of London, and by Baring Brothers and N M Rothschild & Sons
. During the five years of war, Brazilian expenditure reached twice its receipts, causing a financial crisis.
Slavery was undermined in Brazil as slaves were freed to serve in the war. The Brazilian army
became a new and influential force in national life. It transformed itself into a strong institution that, with the war, gained tradition and internal cohesion, and would take a significant role in the later development of the history of the country.
The economic depression and the strengthening of the army later played a big role in the deposition of the emperor Dom Pedro II and the republican proclamation in 1889. General Deodoro da Fonseca
became the first Brazilian president.
In December 1975, when presidents Ernesto Geisel
and Alfredo Stroessner
signed a treaty of friendship and co-operation in Asunción
, the Brazilian government returned its spoils of war to Paraguay, except the Paraguayan national archives which were removed during the ransacking of Asunción and taken to the National library in Rio de Janeiro.
The war still remains a controversial topic — especially in Paraguay, where it is considered either a fearless struggle for the rights of a smaller nation against the aggressions of more powerful neighbours, or a foolish attempt to fight an unwinnable war that almost destroyed a whole nation. In Argentina, as the war wore on, many Argentines saw the conflict as Mitre's war of conquest, and not as a response to aggression. They remembered that Solano López, believing he would have Mitre's support, seized the opportunity to attack Brazil created by Mitre when he used the Argentine Navy to deny access to the Río de la Plata to Brazilian ships in early 1865, thus starting the war.
Territorial changes and treatiesFollowing Paraguay's defeat in 1870, Argentina sought to enforce one of the secret clauses of the Triple Alliance Treaty which permitted Argentina to annex a large portion of the Gran Chaco
region, an area that was rich in quebracho wood (a product used in the tanning
of leather). The Argentine negotiators proposed to Brazil that Paraguay should be divided in two, with each of the victors incorporating a half into its territory. The Brazilian government, however, was not agreeable to such an idea for two reasons: First, Brazil desired to maintain good trading relations with Britain—who was not about to countenance the disappearance of a country that owed them such a large sum of money—and, second, the Brazilians wanted to maintain Paraguay as a buffer between themselves and Argentina. As such, the Argentine proposal to incorporate Paraguay in its entirety was rejected.
Eventually the post-war border between Paraguay and Argentina was resolved through long negotiations and was finalized on February 3, 1876 with a treaty which granted Argentina roughly a third of the area it had originally desired. The only region about which no consensus was reached — the area between the Río Verde
and the main branch of Río Pilcomayo — was arbitrated by U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes
, who declared it Paraguayan (the Paraguayan department
Presidente Hayes was named after Hayes due to his arbitration decision). Brazil signed a separate peace treaty with Paraguay on January 9, 1872, in which it obtained freedom of navigation on the Río Paraguay
. Brazil also retained the borders it had claimed before the war. The treaty also stipulated a war debt was to be paid to the Brazilian government, but it was subsequently cancelled by President Getúlio Vargas
in 1943 in a gesture of good will.
Argentina annexed part of Paraguayan territory and became the strongest of the River Plate
countries. During the campaign, the provinces of Entre Rios and Corrientes had supplied Brazilian troops with cattle, foodstuffs and other products.
In total, Argentina and Brazil annexed about 140000 sqkm of Paraguayan territory: Argentina took much of the Misiones
region and part of the Chaco
between the Bermejo
rivers, an area which today constitutes the province of Formosa
; Brazil enlarged its Mato Grosso
province by claiming territories that had been disputed with Paraguay before the war. Both demanded a large indemnity
(which was never paid) and occupied Paraguay until 1876. Meanwhile, the Colorados
had gained political control of Uruguay, which they retained until 1958.
Impact on yerba mate industrySince colonial times, yerba mate
has been a major cash crop
for Paraguay and it had, until the Paraguayan War, generated significant revenues for the country. The war caused a sharp drop in harvesting of yerba mate in Paraguay, reportedly by as much as 95% between 1865 and 1867. This may have been in large part due to its extensive use by soldiers from all sides who used the crop to diminish hunger pains and alleviate combat anxiety. As a result, after the war concluded in 1870, Paraguay found itself demographically as well as economically ruined. This provided an opportunity for foreign entrepreneurs to take control of yerba mate production and industry in Paraguay. Additionally, as much of the 156415 sqkm lost by Paraguay to Argentina and Brazil as a result of the war was rich in yerba mate, by the end of the nineteenth century Brazil became the leading producer of the crop.
- Carlos de Oliveira Gomes, A Solidão Segundo Solano López, Civilização Brasileira, 1980; Círculo do Livro, 1982.
- Joseph Eskenazi Pernidji and Mauricio Eskenazi e Pernidji. Homens e Mulheres na Guerra do Paraguai. Imago, 2003.
- Lily TuckLily TuckLily Tuck is an American novelist and short story writer whose novel The News from Paraguay won the 2004 National Book Award. Her novel Siam was nominated for the 2000 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction...
. The News From Paraguay. Harper Perennial, 2004.
- Argentino hasta la muerte, by Fernando AyalaFernando AyalaFernando Ayala was an Argentine film producer, film director, screenwriter and film producer of the classic era...
, Argentina (1971).
- Cerro CoraCerro Cora (film)Cerro Cora is a 1978 Paraguayan film based on the story of the War of the Triple Alliance.-External links:* at YouTube...
, by Guillermo Vera, Paraguay (1978).
- Netto perde sua alma, by Beto Souza and Tabajara Ruas, Brazil (2001).
- Guerra do Brasil, documentary by Sylvio Back, Brasil (1987).
- Cándido López - Los campos de batalla, documentary by José Luis García, Argentina (2005).
- The Paraguayan War, documentary by Denis Wright, Brazil (2009).
- List of battles of the Paraguayan War
- Paraguayan War casualties
- Treaty of the Triple AllianceTreaty of the Triple AllianceThe Treaty of the Triple Alliance was a treaty which allied Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay in the Paraguayan War. Signed at the beginning of the war, its articles prescribed the allies' actions both during and after the war.- Legal Restrictions :...
- Women in the Paraguayan WarWomen in the Paraguayan WarParaguan women had a significant role in the Paraguayan War of 1864.The Paraguayan War, also known as the War of the Triple Alliance, was one of the most dreadful in the history of Latin America....
- Campanha do Paraguay : commando em chefe de S. A. o Sr. Marechal de Exercito, Conde d'Eu - Official Report of the Empire of Brazil 1869 -
- Paraguay The War of the Triple Alliance
- Page at countrystudies.us
- The War of Paraguay
- The War of Paraguay – history
- Wargame of Naval Battle of Riachuelo – wargame
- 'Paraguay de Antes' (old photos & pics)
- Cerro Corá in Google Maps