Celebrated annually on the 12th of June, Chaco Armistice Day is a holiday observed in Paraguay. Also known as Día de la Paz del Chaco in Spanish or Chaco Peace Day in English, this holiday commemorates the end of the Chaco War in 1935 between Paraguay and Bolivia.
People in Paraguay use the day to honor those who fought and died for this hard-fought victory and to reflect on the devastation of war in general. The Chaco War is considered one of the bloodiest interstate military conflicts waged during the 20th century, which made the victory on this day bittersweet.
The History of Chaco Armistice Day
The Gran Chaco is a vast lowland plain located in parts of Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina. It is an area that was deemed to have key strategic value to both Paraguay and Bolivia because of the access it granted to the Atlantic via the Paraguay River.
It was also a region speculated to be rich in oil. Because of these two factors, a war erupted between Paraguay and Bolivia over control of the area in 1932.
Bolivia had superior numbers during the war, but they couldn’t overcome the guerrilla tactics used by the Paraguayans. The Paraguayans also had support from both French and Italian forces. The war waged for three years before a ceasefire agreement was signed between the two parties on June 12, 1935.
The result of this conflict was that three-quarters of the area in question was awarded to Paraguay, with Bolivia gaining navigation rights on the Paraguay and Paraná Rivers and the remaining quarter of the territory that bordered Puerto Busch. The war cost Bolivia approximately 60,000 people—or around 2% of its population, and Paraguay about 36,000 people—or about 3% of its population.
Observing Chaco Armistice Day
This day is usually observed with special parades and solemn ceremonies for those who fought bravely for Paraguay during its conquest of the Chaco Region. It is an important day to remember the fallen and the victims of all wars. It is a time to reflect on the loss of life and to consider the consequences of what could happen if Paraguay doesn’t maintain peace with its neighbors.