Thursday, December 5, 2019

War of the Pacific

Bolivia is situated in South America, bordering Chile to the south-west, Peru to the west, Brazil to the north and east, Paraguay to the south-east and Argentina to the south. Bolivia has no sea-coast. Chile, for its part, shares a land boundary with Peru to the north, with Bolivia to the north-east and with Argentina to the east.

Chile and Bolivia gained their independence from Spain in1818 and 1825, respectively. At the time of its independence, Bolivia had a coastline of over 400km along the Pacific Ocean.

Early in 1878, the dictatorial Bolivian government of President Hilarion Daza (1876-79) violated the treaty signed by President Mariano Melgarejo (1864-71) in 1866 that imposed a 10-cent tax on nitrates exported from the Bolivian part of the joint mineral exploitation zone.

In 1878 and contrary to this agreement, Bolivia increased the taxes she levied on these Chilean nitrates, thus affecting Chile economically and also bringing the border dispute to a head.

The British-Chilean Antofagasta Nitrate and Railroad Company (ANRC) categorically refused to pay this tax. As a consequence, the Daza government ordered the seizure of the company’s property, to recover the amount of the tax. As a result of this dispute, Chile started mobilizing her armed forces and activating her fleet in order to settle the border dispute by force and on 14 February 1878 a Chilean naval expedition seized the undefended port of Antofagasta.

A landing force of 500 men occupied the surrounding countryside and placed Chile in effective control of the Atacama.

On 5 April 1879, Chile declared war on Peru and Bolivia. It marked the beginning of one of the longest, bloodiest conflicts of nineteenth-century Latin America. The War of the Pacific pitted Peru and Bolivia against Chile in a struggle initiated over a festering border dispute.

On 1 March 1879 Bolivia declared war on Chile,knowing that she had a secret treaty with Peru to come to her aid against Chile. This treaty was however known to the Chileans who also then declared war on Peru.

The conflict saw Chile's and Peru's armored warships vying for control of sea lanes and included one of the first examples of the use of naval torpedoes. On land, large armies using the most modern weapons-breech-loading rifles, Gatling guns, and steel-barreled artillery-clashed in battles that left thousands of men dead on the battlefields.

The war concluded when Peru signed the Treaty of Ancon with Chile in 1883. However, the final settlement of the Peruvian-Chilean border, as provided for by the Treaty of Ancon, did not take place until 1929.

Bolivia and Chile put an end to the hostilities between them with the signature of the Truce Pact of 4 April 1884 in Valparaíso, Chile, and a definite peace was achieved in 1904. In this treaty, Bolivia lost an entire province, which covered approximately 62,000 sq mi. In addition, Bolivia was deprived of important fiscal revenue and valuable natural resources. Worst of all, Chile took over its littoral zone, which included 187 miles of shore, four main ports, and seven coves.

Bolivia lost its seacoast along with valuable nitrate and copper deposits to Chile, and Peru was forced to cede mineral rich Tarapaca and the province of Arica to the victor.
War of the Pacific

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