The Chaco Armistice public holiday in Paraguay usually falls on 12 June. It is a solemn time of remembrance of the bitterly fought Chaco War between Bolivia and Paraguay of the 1920’s and 1930’s.
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About 100,000 people lost their lives in the Chaco War, which was fought over the rich natural resources of the rugged Chaco region that lies in western Paraguay up against the border with Bolivia. It began in 1928 with small scale skirmishes between oil giants of both countries.
By 1932, an all-out war had erupted. As the war progressed, the guerrilla tactics of Paraguay began to prevail. Disease, lack of food and water, and general attrition took their toll on Bolivia’s forces. Finally, on 12 June 1935, an armistice agreement was signed.
It wasn’t until 1938 that an actual treaty was signed in which 75 percent of the Chaco region was secured by Paraguay. And some of the details of the border were not fully settled until 2009.
On “Chaco Peace Day”, as it is sometimes called, there are parades celebrating the brave fighting of Paraguay’s soldiers in defending the Chaco lands. But it is also a time to remember the loss of life the war incurred and to resolve to seek continued peace and cooperation between Paraguay and its neighbours.