Paraguayan War (1864-1870)
From 1864 until 1870, South America was at war. This conflict was known as the Paraguayan War or the War of the Triple Alliance. Paraguay faced forth against an Argentinean, Brazilian, and Uruguayan alliance. It was the bloodiest war between independent states in Latin American history.
The dictator of Paraguay, Francisco Solano López, invaded Brazil and Uruguay to keep them out of the civil war in Uruguay, which sparked the conflict. López sought to increase Paraguay’s regional sway and territory in order to compete with Brazil. To back up its friend Uruguay and protect its own borders, Argentina joined the war against Paraguay.
Several land and sea engagements and sieges characterized the war. Although outnumbered and outgunned, the Paraguayan people battled valiantly to save their country. Paraguay’s people and territory were decimated, and the country’s economy and society were shattered as a result. After López’s death in 1870 and the parties’ subsequent peace treaties in 1876, the war was finally over.
The effects of the Paraguayan War on South America are still being felt today. It shifted the international power dynamic, diminished Paraguay’s potential as a regional powerhouse, and inspired a renewed sense of national pride.