To the Bitter End: Paraguay and the War of the Triple Alliance

To the Bitter End: Paraguay and the War of the Triple Alliance

To the Bitter End: Paraguay and the War of the Triple Alliance

To the Bitter End: Paraguay and the War of the Triple Alliance

Synopsis

The decision of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay to go to war against Paraguay in May 1965 has generally been regarded as a response to the raids by the headstrong and tyrannical dictator, Francisco Solano Lopez. Leuchars looks at the political causes, the course of the conflict as viewed from both sides, and the tragic aftermath. He brings to light an episode that marked a turning point in the development of South American international relations.

Excerpt

The Italian explorer, Sebastian Cabot, was perhaps the first outsider to set eyes on that land of swamp and jungle, subsequently the scene of so much bloodshed, that lay between two of the great rivers that fed into the Plate. He was also the first to come across the region's fearsome inhabitants and was probably fortunate to escape the encounter with the loss of only half of his companions. So brief was his stay that he discovered little more than the name of the river down which he had fled, and which the Indians referred to as [the river that flows to the sea] or, in their tongue, [Paraguay.]

His experience had been humiliating, but it was portentous too, for three centuries later this land of Paraguay was equally mysterious to those who did not reside there, and its people still proud and suspicious. Indeed, its geographical position, tucked away in the heart of the continent, difficult of access and stifled by its oversized neighbors, together with its bizarre and exploited history, had created a people whose development and character were notably different from those around them.

By the first half of the nineteenth century, this history seemed to be relentlessly downwardly mobile, for since the Spanish conquest the country had assumed a number of different, progressively less distinguished identities. From the 1530s it had been part of a huge province, designated [Provincia Gigante de Los Indios,] comprising its present borders, together with those of Uruguay, eastern Bolivia, and most of Argentina. But in 1542 it was brought under the jurisdiction of the Viceroyalty of Peru and divided into two governorships: that of the River Plate, with its headquarters in Buenos Aires, and Guaira, based in Asunción.

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