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Ecuadorian-Peruvian Border Dispute

The border dispute between Ecuador and Peru lasted over 160 years and was the longest armed conflict in the Western Hemisphere. Amazonian land was the source of the conflict.

After Sim贸n Bol铆var liberated Gran Colombia (present-day Colombia, Venezuela, Panama and Ecuador) in 1819, he had the bold ambition to unite all of South America into the republic. However, Peruvian president Jos茅 de la Mar wanted to be the sole ruler of Peru. De la Mar incited anti-Colombian sentiment within Peru and Bolivia and the Colombian army was expelled in 1828. De la Mar went even further by invading southern Ecuador. This caused the Gran Colombian-Peruvian War. Peru officially lost Guayaquil to Gran Colombia. The two countries agreed to recognize the viceroyalty-era boundaries between them, delineated by the Mara帽贸n and Amazon rivers.

In 1830, Ecuador succeeded from Gran Colombia. In 1857, Ecuador planned to repay its debt with British creditors, which it had accumulated from the war for independence, by giving Britain land in the Amazon. Peru claimed this land as its own and this set off the Ecuadorian-Peruvian War of 1859. The Peruvian navy blockaded Guayaquil until Ecuador signed a treaty to agree not to sell the Amazonian land to Britain. Still, it was debatable what country owned the land.

From 1860 to 1941, a number of treaties were signed to settle the territorial dispute, but the two countries took up arms again in 1941. Peru claims Ecuador invaded its Zarumilla Province, while Ecuador claims Peru launched attacks on Ecuadorian troops around the border. The war lasted less than a month until Ecuador requested a cease fire and Peruvian forces withdrew from Ecuador鈥檚 El Oro Province. The Protocol of Rio de Janeiro of 1942 ended the war, and Ecuador lost nearly half of its Amazonian holdings, an area rich petroleum, gold, uranium and other minerals.

In 1960, Ecuador鈥檚 President Jos茅 Mar铆a Velasco Ibarra stated that the 1942 protocol was null, as Ecuador had been forced to sign under duress. Tensions flared again in the Cordillera del C贸ndor region, briefly in 1981 and again in 1994-1995. This later conflict also involved the headwaters of the R铆o Cenepa. The conflict came to an end February 28, 1992, with the signing of the Montevideo Declaration and the later Itamaraty Peace Declaration, which reaffirmed the Rio Protocol. Finally, on October 26, 1998, the two nations signed a comprehensive border agreement, which was ratified by both nations' congress. Ecuador and Peru established Parque Binacional El C贸ndor in the Cordillera del C贸ndor. Today the borders are clearly defined, but there is still bitterness between the two countries.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Ecuador: Famous People From Quito, Manuela S谩enz, History of the Galapagos Islands, Human History of the Galapagos Islands, The Islanders Take Over, Natural History of Galapagos and Ecuadorian History.








By Thomas Griffin

I recently graduated from the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon. I studied in Sevilla, Spain in...

11 Sep 2012






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