|War of 1941|
|Part of Ecuadorian-Peruvian Conflicts|
|Gen. Eloy Ureta||Col. Luis Rodríguez|
| 15,723 troops|
1,200 Guns of Agrupamiento del Norte July 5, 1941
After they were:
132,000 parmilitary and militia
| 5,300 troops|
327 Guns of the Amazonia, and in Quito:
~100,000 irregulars and partisans
| At the beginning of offensive operations have been put at 15,200 to 30,000 men.|
During the 7-week war, Peru invaded and occupied the western Ecuadorian province of El Oro and parts of the Andean province of Loja and advanced into the Amazonian area occupied by Ecuador according to a status quo agreement signed in 1936.
History of the conflict
The dispute between Ecuador and Peru dates from 1840. Much of the dispute revolved around whether Ecuador's territory extended beyond the Andes mountain range to the Marañon (Amazon) river, including the Amazonian basin.
Even as early as 1829, before Ecuador existed as an independent republic, Peru fought against the Gran Colombia, of which the disputed lands were a part. After a series of battles, the war ended in what is known as the Battle of Tarqui (or Portete de Tarqui). The Gual-Larrea Treaty was signed on September 22, 1829 ending the war. This treaty, better known as the Treaty of Guayaquil, specified that the Colombian-Peruvian border was to be the same border that had existed between the Spanish colonial viceroyalties of Nueva Granada and Lima.
Subsequently, Ecuador contended that the Pedemonte-Mosquera Protocol was signed in 1830 as a continuation of the Gual-Larrea Treaty, but Peru disputes the validity of this protocol and even questions its existence, since the original document cannot be found. Furthermore, Peru argues that the treaties signed with the Gran Colombia were rendered void upon the dissolution of the federation.
During 1859 and 1860, the two countries fought a war over disputed territory bordering the Amazon. However, Ecuador entered into a civil war that prevented diplomatic relations with the rest of Latin America, including Peruvian President Ramón Castilla, due to the lack of a recognized government within Ecuador.
In 1887, a treaty signed by both nations established that the King of Spain would act as an arbitrator. The resulting Herrera-García Treaty was expected to resolve the conflict permanently. However, the Parliament of Peru would only ratify the treaty after introducing modifications, since the treaty seemed unfavourable to that nation. Ecuador then withdrew from the process in protest of the Peruvian modifications, and the King abstained from issuing a decision.
Another dispute was created after the signing of the Treaty of Salomón-Lozano in March 1922, which favoured Colombia at the expense of both Peru and Ecuador. It established the Putumayo River as the boundary between Colombia and Peru. Although it was unpopular in Peru, President Augusto B. Leguia accepted it under considerable pressure from the United States.
The treaty was unpopular in Ecuador as well, which found itself surrounded on the east by Peru, which claimed the territory as an integral part of its Republic). Colombian authorities recognized Peru's territorial aspirations as legitimate.
An agreement was signed in 1936 which recognized territories in de facto possession by each country. The resulting border is known as the 1936 status quo border line.
On January 11, 1941, alleging that the Ecuadorians had been staging incursions and even occupations of the Peruvian territory of Zarumilla, the President of Peru, Manuel Prado, ordered the formation of the North Grouping, a military unit in charge of the Northern Operational Theater.
According to the testimony of Col. Luis Rodríguez, the Ecuadorian forces at the disposal of the Army Border Command in El Oro (Lieutenant Colonel Octavio A. Ochoa) after the incidents of July 5 and 6 were as follows:
- Forces deployed along the Zarumilla river: 3 superior officers, 33 officers, and 743 men, organized as follows:
- "Cayambe" Battalion: 2 superior officers, 22 Officers, 490 soldiers.
- "Montecristi" Battalion: 1 superior officer, 11 Officers, 253 soldiers.
- Forces deployed in the immediate rear: 4 superior officers, 3 officers, 28 soldiers, 93 volunteers, 500 carabineros (a paramilitary Government force), organized as follows:
- At Arenillas: 2 superior officers, 3 Officers, 14 soldiers.
- At Santa Rosa: 2 superior officers, 1 Officer, 18 soldiers, plus the 93 volunteers, and the 500 carabineros.
As a result of the rising tensions on the border during 1939 and 1940, the Peruvian President Manuel Prado authorized in December 1940 the creation of the Agrupamiento del Norte (Northern Army Detachment). By July 1941, this unit was ready to begin active military operations.
Order of Battle, Agrupamiento del Norte, July 1941
- Group Headquarters (Commander in Chief: Gen. Eloy G. Ureta; Chief of Staff: Lieut. Col. Miguel Monteza)
- 5th and 7th Cavalry Regiments
- 6th Artillery Group (8 105mm guns)
- Army Tank Detachment (12 LPT tanks)
- 1st Light Infantry Division (Col. Luis Vinatea)
- 1st, 5th, 19th Infantry Battalions
- 1st Artillery Group (8 guns)
- 1st Engineer Company
- 1st Antiaircraft Section
- 8th Light infantry Division (Col. César Salazar)
- 20th Infantry Battalion
- 8th Artillery Group (8 guns)
- 8th Engineer Company
- Army Detachment "Chinchipe" (Lieut. Col. Victor Rodríguez)
- 33rd Infantry Battalion (2 Light Infantry companies)
- Army Jungle Division (Northeast) (Gen. Antonio Silva)
Figures for total strength of the Agrupamiento del Norte at the beginning of offensive operations have been put at 11,500 to 13,000 men.
The Ecuadorian-Peruvian war took place between 1941 and 1942. The accounts as to which side fired the first shot vary considerably to this day.
- Peru's version is that Ecuadorian troops invaded Peruvian territory in the Zarumilla province, which started a battle that spread to a zone known as Quebrada Seca (dry barren).
- Ecuador's version is that Peru took a series of incidents between border patrols as a pretext to invade Ecuador, with the intention of forcing it to sign a clear border agreement. They argue that the clear disparity of military presence in the region between the two countries supports this version.
The first clashes occurred on Saturday, July 5, 1941.
- According to Peruvian accounts, some Ecuadorian troops from the garrison of Huaquillas, a town on the bank of the Zarumilla river, which then served as the status quo line in the extreme left of the Ecuadorian-Peruvian border, crossed into the Peruvian border post at Aguas Verdes, a town directly in front of Huaquillas, and opened fire on a Peruvian patrol. These troops were then followed by some 200 Ecuadorian armed men, which attacked the Police station at Aguas Verdes, to which the Peruvians reacted by sending an infantry company to Aguas Verdes and repulsing the Ecuadorians back across the Zarumilla. The fighting then spread to the entire border area along the Zarumilla river. By July 6, the Peruvian aviation was conducting air-strikes against the Ecuadorian border posts along the river.
- According to Ecuadorian Col. Luis A. Rodríguez, commander of the Ecuadorian forces defending El Oro during the war, the incidents of July 5 started when an Ecuadorian border patrol found some Peruvian civilians, protected by policemen, clearing a patch of land on the Ecuadorian side of the river. Upon seeing the patrol, the Peruvian policemen opened fire, killing one soldier. This was followed by the widespread exchange of fire between troops on the opposing banks of the Zarumilla, while two Ecuadorian officers sent to Aguas Verdes to speak with the Peruvian local commanding officer were told by Peruvian authorities to go back to their lines.
Regardless, the much larger and better equipped Peruvian force of 13,000 men quickly overwhelmed the approximately 1,800 Ecuadorian covering forces, driving them back from the Zarumilla and invading the Ecuadorian province of El Oro. Peru also carried out limited aerial bombing of the Ecuadorian towns of Huaquillas, Arenillas, Santa Rosa, and Machala.
The Peruvian army had at its disposal a battalion of armor made up of Czech tanks, with artillery and air support. They had also established a paratroop unit in the region and used it to great effect by seizing the Ecuadorian port city of Puerto Bolívar, on July 27, 1941, in what was actually the first instance of airborne troop deployment in the Southern Hemisphere.
Faced with a delicate political situation that even prompted Ecuadorian President Carlos Alberto Arroyo del Río to keep a sizable part of the Army in the capital, Quito, Ecuador promptly requested a cease-fire, which went into effect on July 31, 1941. Yet, Ecuador still carried out guerrilla attacks upon the Peruvian troops.
As a result of the 7-week war, Peru occupied almost the entire Ecuadorian coastal province of El Oro and some towns of the Andean province of Loja, besides driving the Ecuadorians back along the whole line of dispute along the Amazonian border.
Ecuador's government, led by Doctor Carlos Alberto Arroyo del Río, signed the Protocolo de Río de Janeiro Rio Protocol on January 29, 1942, and Peruvian forces subsequently withdrew. Nonetheless, during the retreat several attacks were made against the Peruvian military, and a series of lives were lost during the process.
The placement of the border markers along the definitive border line indicated by the Rio Protocol was not concluded when the Ecuadorians withdrew from the demarcation commissions in 1948, arguing inconsistencies between the geographical realities on the ground and the instructions of the Protocol, a situation that according to Ecuador made it impossible to implement the Protocol until Peru agreed to negotiate a proper line in the affected area. Thus, some 78 km of the Ecuadorian-Peruvian border were left unmarked for the next fifty years, causing continuous diplomatic and military crisis between the two countries.
In 1960, Ecuadorian President José María Velasco declared that the Rio Protocol was void. According to the Velasco Administration, the treaty, having been signed under Peruvian military occupation of Ecuadorian soil, was illegal and contrary to Panamerican treaties that outlawed any treaty signed under the threat of force.
However, this proclamation made little international impact (the treaty was still held as valid by Peru and four more countries). Peruvian analysts have speculated that President Velasco used the nullity thesis in order to gather political support with a nationalistic and populist rhetoric.
In 1981, both countries again clashed briefly in the Paquisha War. Only in the aftermath of the Cenepa War of 1995 was the dispute finally settled. On 26 October 1998, representatives of Peru and Ecuador signed a definitive peace agreement in Brasilia.
- Lieutenant José A. Quiñones was a Peruvian pilot during the war. On July 23, 1941, his plane, a North American NA-50, known as P-64 in USAAF, was hit while performing a low-level attack on an Ecuadorian border post on the banks of the Zarumilla river. According to traditional Peruvian accounts, Quiñones, upon being hit, flew his aircraft directly toward an Ecuadorian anti-aircraft position and crashed against it. He was promoted posthumously to Captain, and is considered today a National Hero in Peru.
- Ecuadorian wartime records of the downing differ greatly from Peruvian ones as Ecuador did not have any anti-aircraft guns located in the area, and the limited artillery located at the Machala was, due to a mistake by the minister of defence, useless as he ordered the wrong calibre of ammunition to be delivered to the units.
- ↑ Col. Luis A. Rodríguez, op. cit.
- ↑ Luis Humberto Delgado, Las Guerras del Perú. Campaña del Ecuador: Grandeza y Miseria de la Victoria, p. 79. Lima, Ed. Torres Aguirre, 1944.
- ↑ Col. Luis A. Rodríguez, La Agresión Peruana Documentada, 2nd Edition, pp. 167-168. Quito, Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana, 1955.
- Text of the Rio Protocol
- Eric J. Lyman War of the Maps, (from Mercator's World)
- ^ Marcella, G. 1995. War and Peace in the Amazon: Strategic Implications for the United States and Latin America of the 1995 Ecuador-Peru War. Department of National Security and Strategy
- Ecuadorian treatiesca:Guerra Equador-Perú