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"The Chaco Boreal War." Topic

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©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP20 Jun 2013 3:34 p.m. PST

Interesting article here.

"The Chaco War is among the bloodiest conflict in Latin America in the twentieth century. In the Francophone world, it is best known by the caricature that was Hergé's adventures of Tintin. However, if it attributes its trigger an explosive mixture of caudillism and greed, the reality, as always, is more complex, the causes of conflict dating back to the independence of the two antagonistic nations,

The aim of this three-year war between Bolivia and Paraguay was the northern Chaco, a vast plain extending between the Andean foothills and the Rio Paraguay, practically depopulated during the first decades of the twentieth century, with the exception of small communities of Indian and European origin, including German Mennonites. Although the exploitation of quebracho and livestock in the region providing a third of the revenue of Paraguay, it was virtually devoid of infrastructure, communications network limited to dirt tracks and trails. Its development was indeed hampered by the lack of drinking water resources, water points are rare, and a particularly harsh climate, alternating periods of drought in summer, from June to November and rainy winter , from December to May These had the effect of transforming a huge area in wetlands.

Paraguay and Bolivia maintained antagonistic claims of the Chaco Boreal since independence, and did not reach a lasting and mutually satisfactory on the demarcation of their common border bilateral agreement. During the second half of the 19th century, two small nations lost some of their territories; Paraguay saw his halved during the War of the Triple Alliance size, and Bolivia had to give up its access to the sea to the end of the Pacific War. La Paz, check the Chaco and establish a river port on the Rio Paraguay and would offset the loss of its maritime province on the Pacific gaining access, very indirect, to the Atlantic Ocean. Tensions were increased in the 20s, while the two governments supported their claims by establishing forts connected by footpaths in the disputed areas, and incidents between soldiers of both sides multiplied. The war almost broke in December 1928, when a major Paraguayan seized, on its own initiative, a fort on the Rio Negro, triggering a strong reaction from Bolivians, who attacked two forts before one of their planes bombard the river port of Bahia Negra, causing no damage. Both countries mobilized their forces, but faced with the unpreparedness of their respective military units, eventually accept foreign mediation, but the border incidents do not stop, while the discovery of oil at the foot of the Andes, giving hope the Chaco also held oil fields, yet only increased the attractiveness of the region. In addition, rival Western oil companies then facilitated the financing of rearmament of the two countries by granting them loans. In January 1930, they had to give in extremis a surprise attack after the Paraguayan intelligence services were able to intercept their plans and submit them to the press, while the two countries were launched several years in a policy reset frantic, declared in the case of Bolivia, and more discreet in Paraguay. In July 1932, a new series of skirmishes led to an exchange of ultimatums between the two nations, which mobilized before the war broke out…"
Full article here





For translation you can used.

Hope you enjoy!.


Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP20 Jun 2013 4:19 p.m. PST

I've looked a few times at the Chaco War, but I've yet to find something that appeals to me about it.

Andrew Preziosi Supporting Member of TMP20 Jun 2013 7:53 p.m. PST

Yeah, Command Mag did a board wargame on the subject years back…it looked good, but it was all logistics and slogging through the rough terrain.

Bob the Temple Builder21 Jun 2013 2:46 a.m. PST

There were several pitched battles that saw human wave attacks on entrenched defenders that were very World War I in style. The air war was also quite interesting.

For me the Chaco War is a mixture of Colonial and World War I, and in many ways it is similar to the fighting that took place in East Africa … so think Von Lettow Vorbeck with a few tanks and aircraft.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2013 11:16 a.m. PST

I had the oportunity to talk with an old veteran in Paraguay about that war.
He only talked about the lack of water. They had to drink their own urine most of their time in the front.
The Bolivian Army arrived near the outskirts of Asuncion and the city was ready to be stormed when they signed peace.
It was a very hard war.


Bob the Temple Builder21 Jun 2013 2:26 p.m. PST


I think that you might have got your facts slightly wrong. The Bolivians never got anywhere near Asuncion … but the Paraguayans nearly captured the Bolivian oil wells (a major source of income for the government) and reached the foothills of the Andes.

The map at the beginning of this topic shows each side's furthest limit of advance.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2013 5:10 p.m. PST

One interesting aspect is the Paraguayans as the underdogs taking on the much larger and better equipped Bolivian army, kicking butts and taking names. But the fighting is fairly one-sided, except for a few interludes Paraguay was on the offensive and winning most of the time and Bolivia hardly ever made a comeback.

There are other interesting bits, like the use of tanks, airplanes and the crucial gunboats (one of which is still in service after all these years !!!)

It was a very brutal affair, the hot, arid climate of the Chaco didn't suit the Bolivians who mostly came from the Andes highlands. Logistics were almost non-existent and like Armand mentions, thirst probably killed more men than weapons did.

I think the Chaco is suited for wargaming, but most of the major fighting was WWI style trench warfare, often very crude for lack of artillery and equipment. Maybe I'm biased, but the Mexican Revolution offers more options and a bit more "colour" …

vtsaogames Inactive Member22 Jun 2013 6:55 a.m. PST

One factor in favor of the Paraguayans: they spent most of the war closer to their supply sources than the Bolivians. Only at the end when they pushed into the mountains were they as poorly served by their logistical "tail" as the enemy were.

Agreed, Asuncion was never closely threatened by the Bolivians. I do recall an old board game of the war where one Paraguayan reinforcement unit was the Asuncion police department.

If you want interwar combat with mortars supplying most of the artillery support, and the odd early tank for the Bolivians, this is it. Paraguayans often enveloped Bolivian positions. It wasn't all frontal attacks on trenches.

Paraguayan general Jose Estigarribia was far better than Bolivia's rented German general Hans Kundt.

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