Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Edward O. Elsasser

Second Advisor

Dr. Sherwood S. Cordier

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


I. The Background of the Conflict

In the summer of 1932, while the world's attention was focused upon Japanese aggression in Manchuria, a border skirmish in the upper reaches of the Plata valley ignited a conflict which could not be extinguished by the good offices of the Pan-American Union or the peace-making machinery of the League of Nations. The prize in question, nearly one hundred and fifty thousand square miles of savanna and swamp, would be minuscule in comparison with the territorial acquisitions of the dictators of that era, but to the two politically unstable and highly nationalistic nations contesting possession, it represented strategic or economic advantages well worth gaining. The Chaco War of 1932-1935, pitting the predominantly Indiana republics of Paraguay and Bolivia, was the first international conflict in the Latin American region since the War of the Pacific (1879-1884), and the only one to utilize relatively modern systems of weapons and tactics. In some respects, it represented a "transplanting" of the trench-and-bunker warfare of the Western Front of World War I into a tropical environment, but with a few basic changes.