Wars of Latin America, 1899–1941


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About the Book

The years 1899 through 1941 are remarkable even by Latin America’s uniquely turbulent standards. During this time, border disputes and domestic insurrections forcefully shaped the history of this area, as many countries made the rocky transition from agrarian to industrial societies.
This volume provides a concise survey of Latin American wars between 1899 and 1941. It compares and contrasts the wars and considers them in light of military theory. It also demonstrates how instrumental wars have been in directing the history of Latin America, and how the United States has often influenced these wars in a decisive manner. Wars examined include border disputes in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Panama, and Costa Rica, and domestic insurrections in Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, and Nicaragua. Numerous photographs and maps illustrate the text and make it easy to follow every military campaign.
The vivid narrative captures the human drama of the wars and brings to life the violent clashes of powerful personalities in unusually hostile terrain. Jungles, mountains, and deserts ravaged armies no less dramatically than combat, and the emotions the wars released make many episodes unforgettable.
Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

René De La Pedraja, PhD, University of Chicago, has researched and written numerous publications. He is a professor of history at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York.

Bibliographic Details

René De La Pedraja
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 508
Bibliographic Info: 59 photos, maps, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2579-2
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8257-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

List of Maps      x

Preface     1

Prologue: The War of the Thousand Days and the Passing of 19th-Century Warfare      5

The Liberal Onslaught, 1899–1900      5

Venezuela and the Liberal Revolt, 1900–1901      24

The Liberals’ Last Efforts, 1901–1902      33

The Passing of Nineteenth-Century Warfare      45


1. War in the Amazon Jungle: The Acre Territory      51

The Acre Territory and the First Bolivian Campaign      52

Plácido de Castro and the Collapse of Bolivian Rule      61

2. The Struggle for the Peruvian Amazon      71

Border Clashes and War Scares, 1900–1910      71

Colombia and the Battle of La Pedrera      83

The Lingering Disputes Over the Northern Boundary of Peru      89

3. War Between Panama and Costa Rica      93

The War over the Coto Region      93

Some Reflections      100


4. Cuba: Demobilization and War      103

The First U.S. Occupation of Cuba, 1898–1902      103

The August 1906 Revolt and the Second U.S. Occupation, 1906–1909      107

The Creation of the Cuban Army and the Race War of 1912      111

The Revolt of February 1917      120

The End of a Mission      128

5. Mexico: The Fall of the Ancien Régime      132

The Start of the Insurrection      133

The Spread of the Insurrection      139

The Battle of Ciudad Juárez      145

The Collapse of the Ancien Régime      154

6. Mexico: The Struggle to Restore Order      157

The Revolt of Emiliano Zapata      157

The Revolt of Pascual Orozco      163

The Orozquista Invasion of Sonora      173

The Final Battle of Francisco Madero      178

7. The Revolt Against Victoriano Huerta      183

Venustiano Carranza and Sonora      183

The Offensives of Victoriano Huerta      191

The Rebel Offensives      198

Huerta’s Last Stand and the U.S. Occupation of Veracruz      209

8. The Struggle Against Pancho Villa      220

The Path to War and the Start of the Villista Onslaught      220

The Turn of Destiny: January–April 1915      230

The Campaign in Central Mexico      241

The Villista Invasion of Sonora      249

U.S. Military Intervention: The Punitive Expedition      256

9. The Revival of Mexico’s Central Government      261

The Exhaustion of Mexico and the System of Venustiano Carranza      261

The Overthrow of the System of Venustiano Carranza      268

The Revolt of Adolfo de la Huerta, 1923–1924      276

10. The Pacification of Mexico      287

The Cristero Rebellion and Other Armed Revolts      287

The Escobar Rebellion and the Last Battle of the Mexican Revolution      298

The End of the Cristero Rebellion and the Pacification of Mexico      305

11. Nicaragua: The Insurrection Against the United States      309

The First Phase of the Sandino Revolt, 1926—1929      310

The Revival of the Sandino Revolt, 1930–1933      317


12. The Chaco War: The First Phase, 1932–1933      325

The Decision for War      327

The Siege of Boquerón and the First Paraguayan Offensive      335

Hans Kundt and the Bolivian Counteroffensive      342

The Turning Moment for Hans Kundt: The Battle of Nanawa      348

From Nanawa to the Battle of Campo Vía      353

13. The Chaco War: The Second Phase, 1934–1935      360

The New War and the Pursuit      361

Thrust and Counterthrust      365

The Battle of El Carmen      369

The Disaster of Picuiba      380

The Struggle for the Andes Mountains      385

14. War Between Peru and Colombia      393

Decisions for War      393

The Start of the Campaign: Tarapacá      398

The Battle of Güepí      403

The Last Offensive      409

15. War Between Peru and Ecuador      415

Mounting Tensions with Ecuador      415

Preparations for War      419

The Battle of Zarumilla      424

The Last Offensive in the Amazon      428

Conclusions      433

Chapter Notes      437

Selected Bibliography      473

Index      479

Book Reviews & Awards

“recommended”—Choice; “scholarly survey…scrupulous and highly recommended”—Midwest Book Review; “well-written, well-researched, judicious work”—The Journal of Military History; “De La Pedraja has made a very useful contribution to the literature on the history of Latin America in the twentieth century, and particularly of U.S. relations with the region. His book is not only of value to those interested in Latin American history and U.S. foreign policy toward the region, but also will be of some value for students of guerrilla warfare and insurgency”—Strategy Page; “impressive…exhaustive”—Hispanic American Historical Review; “very useful work for anyone interested in the history of Latin America, and particularly of U.S. relations with the region”—The NYMAS Review.