Chaco Armistice Day is observed annually on June 12 in Paraguay to commemorate the conclusion of the Chaco War between Bolivia and Paraguay. It is also known as Chaco Peace Day and ‘Da de la Paz del Chaco’ in Spanish, and it is a solemn day of remembrance for the bloody conflict of the 1930s.
The parades honour the valiant soldiers who gave their lives for their nation, but it is also a time to reflect on the loss of life and resolve to pursue peace with Bolivia and other neighbours.
The background of Chaco Armistice Day
The Gran Chaco is a vast, lowland, South American plain that stretches across portions of Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina. The area was considered to have strategic value for both Paraguay and Bolivia because the Paraguay River provided access to the Atlantic. The region was also abundant in natural resources, and oil was believed to be abundant. In 1928, these factors led to the emergence of minor disputes between oil titans in both countries. In 1932, a full-scale conflict broke out between Paraguay and Bolivia over control of the region.
Despite possessing a numerical advantage during the conflict, Bolivia was unable to overcome the guerrilla tactics of Paraguay. The latter was also supported by the armies of France and Italy. The conflict lasted three years prior to the 12 June 1935 signing of a cease-fire agreement. As a consequence of this conflict, Paraguay received three-quarters of the Chaco region, while Bolivia received navigation rights on the Paraguay and Parana Rivers and a quarter of the territory bordering Puerto Busch. Additionally, Bolivia lost approximately 60,000 individuals, or approximately 2% of its population, while Paraguay lost approximately 36,000.
Thus, Chaco Armistice Day commemorates the one hundred thousand war casualties. The Chaco War is still regarded as one of the bloodiest international military conflicts of the 20th century, rendering the victory bittersweet.
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CHACO ARMISTICE DAY DATES