|Part of Ecuadorian-Peruvian Conflicts|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Fernando Belaúnde Terry||Jaime Roldós Aguilera|
The Paquisha War was a brief military clash that took place between January and February 1981 between Ecuador and Peru over the control of three watchposts. While Peru felt that the matter was already decided in the Ecuadorian-Peruvian War of 1941, Ecuador did not agree with the Rio de Janeiro Protocol. Later in 1998 the Guarantors of the Rio Protocol ruled that the border of the undelimited zone was indeed the line of the Cordillera del Cóndor, as Peru had been claiming since the 1940s.
In 1980, Peru invades Paquisha border populations, Machinaza Mayaycu and nestled in the foothills of the Cordillera del Condor and Nangaritza valley, note that the President of Ecuador Jaime Roldos in person visit military outposts along the border In the aftermath of the incident, both sides increased their military presence along the Cordillera del Cóndor area and Cenepa Valley, starting an escalating spiral of tension and provocation that finally resulted in another military confrontation in 1995, the Cenepa War.
While the name Paquisha War is widely use by the international community and Ecuador, in Spanish this incident is also known as the Falso Paquisha War in Peru and, occasionally, as the Paquisha Incident.
For details on the history of the border dispute between Ecuador and Peru, please see History of the Ecuadorian-Peruvian territorial dispute.
The Fake Paquisha Incident
The dispute revolved around the possession of three Ecuadorian military outposts, called Paquisha, Mayaicu, and Machinaza, these located on the eastern slopes of the Cordillera del Cóndor (Cóndor mountain range).
The Ecuadorian possession of these posts was denounced by Peruvian representatives at the foreign ministers' meeting of the OAS, on February 2, 1981. During this meeting, the Peruvian Foreign Minister, Javier Arias Stella, called the three Ecuadorian military outposts falsos ("fakes"), despite Ecuadorian sovereignty.
The Ecuadorian Foreign Minister, Alfonso Barrera Valderde, responded to this allegation stating that when Ecuador responded to the attacks on January 28, it always specified that the attacks were being made against the destacamentos (military outposts) of Paquisha, Mayaicu, and Machinaza, not against the similarly named Ecuadorian towns.
The meeting concluded with a resolution that announced a cease fire in the conflict zone, and noted that both countries had accepted a commission of representatives from the guarantor countries to safeguard the observance of the cease fire and establish conditions for peace between Peru and Ecuador.
The Fuerza Aérea del Peru (FAP) flew many sorties with A-37B, Mirage 5P and Su-22 to support these operations. The FAE flew 179 combat missions with A-37B and Mirage F-1 aircraft to counter the FAP attacks. On January 28, 1981 there was a dogfight between 2 A-37Bs of the FAE and FAP.
Ecuadorians were able to capture a Paquishan outpost which was in Peruvian territory according to the treaty in the Ecuadorian-Peruvian war of 1941. The Peruvian operation was a success, the Peruvian outpost of Falso Paquisha, that was occupied by the Ecuadorians, was taken on February 5, 1981 by Peruvian troops. The conflict, which occurred in a then non-demarcated area of the common border between Ecuador and Peru, ceased with the Ecuadorians being expelled from the slopes and driven back to the summit of the Cordillera del Cóndor.
As a result, the Peruvian and Ecuadorian governments, with assistance of each one of the Guarantors, agreed to separate their forces. This "gentleman's agreement" remained in effect throughout the 1980s, with various measures taken to codify conduct of patrols encountering one another in the disputed area.
Context of the "gentlemen's agreement."
To avoid the disaster of 1941 in regard to loss of civilian lives and a possible invasion to the south of Ecuador, the High Command sent to twenty-five thousand men under the command of General Richelieu Levoyer with the task of defending such possible invasion pathways.
Until then the Ecuadorian Defense Plan envisaged a logistics operations taking about eight days to install the defensive system. Levoyer proposed a new plan which placed all personnel, weapons, supplies, etc., in twenty-four hours in the front and ready to fulfill the mission of defense.
The Peruvian armed forces met with surprise the armed device in record time, so thinking that Levoyer and his men would invade the north of Peru organized the anti-tank defense lines, trenches trap, and so on.
Fortunately, events did not lead to general war, which would have become a clear loss for both countries. The widespread confrontation was avoided probably because of the direct talks between top military Commanders of the two countries, and the military Delegates of Chile, Argentina, Brazil and USA. The talks took place in the border line near the Pacific Ocean, in the towns of Huaquillas (Ecuador, Province of El Oro) and Aguas Verdes (Peru, Department of Tumbes). And the result was the Sorrosa-Du Bois Act.
The cycle of direct talks gathered those men of war face to face. While they ran, Levoyer's war essays continued both to encourage his men and to undermine the morale of their opponents who had to get used to the daily six o'clock in the morning start of the exercises with artillery and other deployment of force.
The talks included Levoyer who was called by his adversaries, the leader of the "hard line."
Border violence remained constant until the resolution of the Ecuadorian-Peruvian territorial dispute in 1998 through the Brasilia Presidential Act. Violence occurred most of the time around January, which coincides with the month that the Rio Protocol was signed. Despite several proposals to complete demarcation of the border, no agreement was possible at that time.
Several military bases were built up and down the Cordillera by both countries, and the region was militarized. The Peruvian bases were serviced by helicopter, while on the Ecuadorian side, gravel roads were constructed to several military border posts.
Some sources claim that the Ecuadorian resistance to the full implementation of the border demarcation during the 1970s and 1980s was almost entirely due to domestic political struggles.
According to the USIP, after this war, Ecuador's Foreign Ministry conducted a national opinion survey that reportedly confirmed the popularity of nullification of the Rio Protocol and Ecuador's right to sovereign access to the Amazon river. Thus, in 1983, the Ecuadorian congress reaffirmed its position on the nullity of the Rio Protocol.
- Mena Villamar, Claudio. Paquisha: toda la verdad. Letranueva. Quito, 1981. Besides the Ecuadorian representative could demonstrate with hard evidence, strict and terse Peru showed that once again threatened the peace of the Americas
- Territorial Disputes and Their Resolution – The Case of Ecuador and Peru. United States Institute of Peace.
- Interview with Peruvian President Fernando Belaunder Terry, Falso Paquisha Incident Caretas
- Detailed information about the military actions in the Paquisha Incident
- The 1995 Peruvian-Ecuadorian border conflict
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