CHACO WAR (1932-1938) By Marley Coyne and Brandon Sibala

Outline of Events
  • 1810- In Paraguay, Spanish rule collapses and the Paraguay government claims the Gran Chaco by terms by de facto(claimed without lawful authority), rather than de jure(claimed by law).
  • 1870- Paraguay is defeated in the War of Triple Alliance and relinquishes over 55,000 square miles of territory to Argentina and Brazil.
  • 1884- Bolivia loses to Chile in the Pacific War and concedes its pacific coastline to Chile.
  • 1928- Oil is discovered in the foothills of the Andes at the western extremity of the Gran Chaco.
  • 1928- Bolivia tries to establish an outlet to the sea by way of the Paraguay River and fighting between the two nations begin. However, formal war is not declared at this point, as only sporadic skirmishes and raids are exchanged.
  • 1932- Full-scale hostilities begin between Paraguay and Bolivia.
  • 1935- A ceasefire is negotiated.
  • 1936-The Paraguayan government, is deposed in a coup by factions displeased with the light treatment of Bolivia, eventually causing an economic crisis within the country and beginning a series of coups and dictatorships lasting well into the 1980's.
  • 1938- The Chaco Treaty is signed, officially ending the war. Both countries agreed to submit their claims to arbitration, with Paraguay receiving almost all of the Gran Chaco, and Bolivia receiving a narrow corridor to the Paraguay River.

Work Cited: "The Gran Chaco War, 1928-1935." The World at War. 1996. Web. 14 Oct. 2010. <>.
"War of the Triple Alliance." New World Encyclopedia. Web. 14 Oct. 2010. <>.

Central Issue of the Conflict/Crisis
The Chaco War was fought between Paraguay and Bolivia over a region known as Gran Chaco, which both nations (wrongly) thought was rich in oil. Both countries believed that by taking control of the River Paraguay they would receive both economical and territorial benefits. These countries both hoped to invest in the economic interests provided by the control of petroleum in this region, even though oil in the area was actually quite scarce. In addition, Paraguay had recently lost much of its land and hoped that by gaining control in the Gran Chaco region, they would still have some power in South America.
(CoyneMa)Work Cited: "The Chaco War." American University Database. Web. 14 Oct. 2010. <

Role played by League of Nations in dealing with the Conflict/Crisis -Analysis of effectiveness of League of Nations role in the event
In June of 1935, the League of Nations, aided by the United States and five other South American governments, helped to negotiate a truce that ended the Chaco War. After much diplomatic negotiations, Paraguay and Bolivia decided to sign an armistice, which ended the brutal fighting in the Gran Chaco region. This truce was signed in the neutral Buenos Aires in July of 1938. It declared that Paraguay would gain the most territory by far, on the condition that both sides stopped fighting. Bolivia received a significantly smaller portion of land, merely as a symbolic gesture of piece.
Analysis: The League of Nations, while flawed, made a great impact in the ending of this gruesome and bloody war. It acted as an effective mediator, aiding in the negotions of the two disputing countries. Perhaps, if they had intervened sooner the war would have ended quicker.
(CoyneMa)Work Cited: Date, By That. "Chronology 1935." Indiana University. Web. 14 Oct. 2010. <>.
1935, By. "The Gran Chaco War, 1928-1935." The World at War. Web. 14 Oct. 2010.

Primary Source Visual
external image chaco-2.jpg

Analysis: This document shows troops for Paraguay mobilizing and preparing for war. This document is important because it show the extent of war and is representative of the amount of troops that were involved. However this document is limited in that it is only representative of one side of the war. What you see here is the troops preparing for the hardships of wars, but it does not show any of the battles that ensued during the bloodiest war in South America during the 20th Century. One important aspect of this war that you also do not see is the use of tanks and modern artillery that resulted in many casualties. However, this does not diminish the overall value that the mood of this picture gives the viewers.


Work Cited: "Chaco War (1932-1935)." Latin American Studies. Web. 12 Oct. 2010.

Primary Source Textual"Bolivia-Paraguay: Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Boundaries." Latin American Studies. Web. 14Oct. 2010. <>.ANALYSISThis link provides the actual Chaco Treaty signed by both Bolivia and Paraguay as well as the United States, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Brazil, and Uruguay, which represented the League of Nations. The peace treaty specified that Bolivia and Paraguay submitted their claims to arbitration, meaning that the representing League of Nations countries would decide where the boundaries between the conflicting countries should be. The purpose of the treaty was to provide an official declaration of peace between Paraguay and Bolivia and also to provide a clear explanation of how the border dispute would be settled. The document is valuable because it exhibits the role of the League of Nations in resolving the dispute. However, the document is limited in the fact that it shows only the terms agreed upon by the countries. The document does not display the motivations of participating country that led to the specified terms listed in the treaty(SibalBr)
Work Cited: "Bolivia Paraguay Chaco War 1932-1935." - Wars, Military History, International Relations. Web. 14 Oct. 2010. <>.