As the Kingdom of Spain became independent in 1811, Paraguay defended its sovereignty and acquired important economic and cultural development under Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia‘s iron-fisted dictatorship and the constructive governance of Carlos Antonio López. President Carlos Antonio López passed away in 1862 and his son Francisco Solano López continued to lead the country as the new president.
Although this fanatical young man was repeatedly instructed by his father to solve conflicts through politics means and “pens”, the novice president drove Paraguay into the War of the Triple Alliance between Brazil, Argentina, and the Uruguay alliance from 1865 to 1870; this military competition became the unprecedented gory struggle on the land of the Americas.
The once enormous Paraguay army was left with approximately 480 soldiers in the end, and the president himself, who once commanded an unit, was also found among the dead.
Only 6000 males and 220,000 females and children from the population of 1.377 million in Paraguay have survived during that period.
Paraguay, once the most prosperous country in the Americas, was already damaged severely when marshal Francisco Solano López took office; the mighty wars have led to significant amount of deaths, territorial fragmentation, and have destroyed all industrial sources.
Including the Battle of Boquerón, Battle of Nanawa, Battle of Campo Jordán, Battle of Campo Aceval and Alihuatá, Battle of Campo Via pocket, Battle of Frotín Saavedra, and Battle of Fortín Muñoz.
As other countries in Latin America were concerned about the increased intensity of the Chaco War, the international community convened a central committee formed with various countries in that specific area including Argentina, Chile, and Brazil, and reached to an armistice agreement of 20 days from 19th December 1933 to 6th January 1934 that both Bolivia and Paraguay approved; however, the superior tactics and military advantage of Paraguay with the attacks sustained from before along with Bolivia’s unwillingness of giving up the extorted territories, led to the former breaking the armistice agreement and continued its operation.
At the beginning of January 1934, the Paraguayan army continued to advance into Chaco Boreal and conquered Fortín Platanillo, Fortín Loa, Fortín Esteros, and Fortín Jayucubás. Within the next month, which was February, the Paraguayan occupied La China, and broke through a 300m gap at the frontline of Magariños, penetrating 7km into the enemy territory, which resulted in casualties of 60 Bolivians and 37 Paraguayans. Not long after, on the 20th of March, the Paraguayan army surrounded and annihilated two Bolivian military camps at Cañada Tarija, resulting in thousands of deaths and captives; the Paraguayan army then cleared out and occupied Fortín Garrapatal on the 28th.
The Paraguayan army was defeated during the Battle of Cañada Strongest, and the Bolivian army was defeated repeatedly from the previous confrontations. During the summer in 1934, the operation in Chaco remained stagnant and since then neither the Bolivians nor the Paraguayans had enough combat capabilities to launch further attacks, hence the conflict turned into attrition warfare between the jungle and the desert trenches.
By the middle of 1935, the Paraguayan army had occupied almost the entire Chaco area, and only a few kilometers before they reached Ravelo and its oil wells; Bolivia was no longer capable of turning the tide and should Paraguay continued to invade, the country would be beyond saving. Based on this reason, the country had to fight for its own survival, and President Tejada Sorzano authorized his diplomats to solve the conflict through negotiations and for this reason, the Bolivian government sent Colonel Ángel Rodríguez to the neutral territory of Buenos Aires and assigned him to conduct peace negotiations with Paraguayan representatives and Argentinian mediators.
On 18th July 1935, general of the two armies, José Félix Estigarribia and Enrique Peñaranda, officially met and signed the peace agreement between Paraguay and Bolivia. Chaco War ended in a tragic 90,000 death toll where Bolivia had 85,000 casualties, of which 60,000 were dead and 25,000 were captives; in addition, a total expense of USD $228 million was spent.
Paraguay had 32,500 casualties, of which 30,000 were dead and 2500 were captives; in addition, a total expense of 128 million dollars was spent.
Regarding Chaco Boreal, Bolivia was able to hold on to 1/3 of the territory including the natural gas mining area; as the conqueror of the war, Paraguay devoured the remaining 2/3, which significantly increased its territories.