Ecuadorian–Peruvian War

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Ecuadorian–Peruvian War
Part of the Ecuadorian–Peruvian Conflicts

Collage of the Peruvian-Ecuadorian War
Date5 July 1941 – 31 July 1941 (combat) (3 weeks and 5 days)
Ecuadorian provinces of El Oro, Loja, Santiago Zamora [es] and Napo Pastaza [es]

Peruvian victory

 Peru  Ecuador
Commanders and leaders
Peru Manuel Prado
Peru Eloy G. Ureta
Peru Marciano Munoz Ramirez[1][2]
Ecuador Carlos Alberto Arroyo
Ecuador Luis Rodríguez
5 July 1941:
11 tanks
24 guns (from the Agrupamiento del Norte)
In Amazonia:
8 guns
In Quito:
Casualties and losses
110 killed
200 wounded[3]
1,000 killed[3]
At the beginning of offensive, numbers have been estimated between 15,200 and 30,000.

The Ecuadorian–Peruvian War, known locally as the War of '41 (Spanish: Guerra del 41), was a South American border war fought between 5–31 July 1941. It was the first of three military conflicts between Ecuador and Peru during the 20th century.

During the war, Peru occupied the western Ecuadorian province of El Oro and parts of the Andean province of Loja. Although the war took place during World War II, it is unrelated to that conflict, as neither country was supported by either the Allies or the Axis.

A ceasefire agreement between the two countries came into effect on 31 July 1941. Both countries signed the Rio Protocol on 29 January 1942, and Peruvian forces subsequently withdrew. The enmity over the territorial dispute continued after 1942 and concluded following the Cenepa War of 1995 and the signing of the Brasilia Presidential Act agreement in October 1998.[4]


Map of the dispute between Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

The territorial dispute between Ecuador and Peru dated from before Ecuador's independence, as part of a broader dispute between what was then Gran Colombia and Peru. It revolved around whether Ecuador's territory extended beyond the Andes mountain range to the Marañon (Amazon) river, including the Amazonian basin.

The lack of resolution of the dispute, despite several attempts by both parties, led to several conflicting treaties being signed between different parties to the conflict, including Colombia and Brazil, and led to war on several occasions. The first of these armed conflicts took place in 1828, when Peru fought against Gran Colombia in the Gran Colombia–Peru War.[5] After the dissolution of Gran Colombia, the conflict resumed with Ecuador, with skirmishes taking place often and the first Ecuadorian–Peruvian War taking place between Ecuador and Peru from 1857 to 1860.[6]

Peruvian protesters opposing the transfer of Leticia.

The dispute was again brought into the spotlight after the signing of the Salomón–Lozano Treaty in March 1922 by the governments of Colombia and Peru, which at that time was ruled by Augusto B. Leguía. The treaty, which was kept secret, set the boundary between Peru and Colombia as the Putumayo River, with the exception of a small strip of land controlled by the city of Leticia that would connect Colombia to the main flow of the Amazon River. With that, Colombia effectively recognized Peruvian control of the rest of the disputed region south of the Putumayo River.[7]

Following the coup d'état against Leguía by troops under the command of Luis Miguel Sánchez Cerro, the treaty was made public and caused much anger among the Peruvian population, which perceived that the treaty awarded Colombia a section of Peruvian territory. This dispute over the Amazon region controlled by Leticia would eventually lead to a short war between Colombia and Peru from 1932 to 1933. The conflict over Leticia, which was populated by both Peruvian and Colombian colonists, was resolved after Sanchez Cerro was assassinated and the new Peruvian president Óscar R. Benavides accepted the 1934 Rio Protocol which upheld the Salomón–Lozano Treaty and finally put an end to the border disputes between Colombia and Peru.

The Salomón–Lozano Treaty was unpopular in Ecuador as well, which found itself surrounded on the east by Peru, which claimed the territory as an integral part of its republic. Further adding to Ecuador's problems, the Colombian government now also recognized Peru's territorial aspirations as legitimate, and had nominally granted to Peru an area in Sucumbíos which had been claimed by Ecuador.[8][9][10]

Ecuadorian–Peruvian border in 1936

An agreement was signed in 1936 which recognized territories in de facto possession by each country. The resulting border is known as the 1936 status quo border line.[5]

However, by 1938 both nations were once again holding minor border skirmishes.[11] That same year, the entire Ecuadorian Cabinet, which was composed of high-ranking army officers who served as advisors for General Alberto Enríquez Gallo (who had taken charge of government after a military coup d'état), resigned from government in order to take command of the Ecuadorian Army. Meanwhile, in Quito, there were public demonstrations of people chanting "Down With Peru! Long Live Ecuador!".[12]

Peru's response to the events taking place in Ecuador was provided by foreign minister Carlos Concha Cárdenas [es], who stated, "In Peru we have not yet lost our heads. Our country is in a process of prosperous development and the Government heads would have to be completely mad to think of war."[12] The social situation of Peru at that time was undergoing major changes, with the social reforms begun by president Augusto B. Leguia (which, he claimed, were aimed at improving roads, sanitation, industrial development, and promoting the general welfare of Peru's indigenous population) being continued by president General Oscar Benavides. Economically, Peru claimed to be attempting to run on a balanced budget, but Peru still held a large debt in spite of its positive foreign trade.[12] However, despite these claims, Peru also began to mobilize its troops to its border with Ecuador in order to match the Ecuadorian troops which had been deployed to the dispute zone.[12]

On 11 January 1941, alleging that the Ecuadorians had been staging incursions and even occupations of the Peruvian territory of Zarumilla, the Peruvian president, Manuel Prado, ordered the formation of the Northern Army Detachment (Spanish: Agrupamiento del Norte), a military unit in charge of the Northern Operational Theatre.[2]

Forces involved[edit]


According to the testimony of Col. Luis Rodríguez,[13] the Ecuadorian forces at the disposal of the Army Border Command in El Oro (Lieutenant Colonel Octavio A. Ochoa) after the incidents of 5 and 6 July were as follows:

  • Forces deployed along the Zarumilla river: 3 superior officers, 33 officers, and 743 men, organized as follows:
    • "Cayambe" Battalion: 2 superior officers, 22 Officers, 490 soldiers.
    • "Montecristi" Battalion: 1 superior officer, 11 Officers, 253 soldiers.
  • Forces deployed in the immediate rear: 4 superior officers, 40 officers, 28 soldiers, 93 volunteers, 500 carabineros (a paramilitary Government force), organized as follows:
    • At Arenillas: 2 superior officers, 3 Officers, 14 soldiers.
    • At Santa Rosa: 2 superior officers, 1 Officer, 18 soldiers, plus the 93 volunteers, and the 500 carabineros.


As a result of the rising tensions on the border during 1939 and 1940, the Peruvian President Manuel Prado authorised in December 1940 the creation of the Agrupamiento del Norte (Northern Army Detachment). By July 1941, this unit was ready to begin active military operations.

Peruvian order of battle

Order of Battle, Agrupamiento del Norte, July 1941

  • Group Headquarters (Commander in Chief: Gen. Eloy G. Ureta; Chief of Staff: Lieut. Col. Miguel Monteza)
    • 5th and 7th Cavalry Regiments
    • 6th Artillery Group (8 105 mm guns)
    • Army Tank Detachment (12 Czechoslovak LTP tanks)
  • 1st Light Infantry Division (Col. Luis Vinatea)
    • 1st, 5th, 19th Infantry Battalions
    • 1st Artillery Group (8 guns)
    • 1st Engineer Company
    • 1st Antiaircraft Section
  • 8th Light infantry Division (Col. César Salazar)
    • 20th Infantry Battalion
    • 8th Artillery Group (8 guns)
    • 8th Engineer Company
  • Army Detachment "Chinchipe" (Lieut. Col. Victor Rodríguez)
    • 33rd Infantry Battalion (2 Light Infantry companies)
  • Army Jungle Division (Northeast) (Gen. Antonio Silva)

Figures for total strength of the Agrupamiento del Norte at the beginning of offensive operations have been put at 11,500 to 13,000 men.


July 5 incident[edit]

The first shots of the conflict were fired on July 5, 1941, with both parties disagreeing about who fired the first shot. According to Ecuadorian Colonel Luis A. Rodríguez, commander of the Ecuadorian forces defending the province of El Oro during the war, a group of Peruvian civilians, including policemen, crossed the Zarumilla River onto Ecuadorian soil. The Peruvian policemen are then said to have fired first when a border patrol was spotted, killing one soldier. This was followed by the widespread exchange of fire between troops on the opposing banks of the Zarumilla, while two Ecuadorian officers sent to Aguas Verdes to speak with the Peruvian local commanding officer were told by Peruvian authorities to go back to their lines.[14] According to Peru, Ecuadorian Army troops from the garrison of Huaquillas, a town on the bank of the Zarumilla river, which then served as the status quo line in the extreme left of the Ecuadorian-Peruvian border, crossed into the Peruvian border post at Aguas Verdes, a town directly in front of Huaquillas, and opened fire on a Peruvian Civil Guard patrol. These troops were then followed by some 200 Ecuadorian armed men, which attacked the police station at Aguas Verdes for 30 minutes, to which the Peruvians reacted by sending an infantry company to Aguas Verdes and driving the Ecuadorians back across the Zarumilla, holding back a potential advance and waiting for reinforcements.[15][16] The fighting then spread to the entire border area along the Zarumilla River. By 6 July, the Peruvian aviation was conducting airstrikes against the Ecuadorian border posts along the river.[17][18][19] After the 5th, hostilities along the border continued. As a result, on the night of July 6, the senior commander of the Ecuadorian Army ordered the formation of the 5th Infantry Brigade in El Oro, under the command of Colonel Luis Rodríguez.[20]

Zarumilla Offensive[edit]

Peruvian bombardment of Arenillas

The Peruvian offensive against Ecuador began on July 23, being carried out by the newly formed Northern Army Detachment, headed by General Eloy G. Ureta with the purpose of pushing north into El Oro Province with the stated purpose of preventing more skirmishes along the disputed border.[2][21] On that day, the 41st Peruvian Squadron took off from Tumbes to fulfill a mission, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Antonio Alberti and made up of Lieutenants Fernando Paraud, José A. Quiñones and Manuel Rivera, aboard their North American NA-50 or Toritos fighter planes. The mission consisted of bombing the Ecuadorian post of Quebrada Seca, where they had concentrated the bulk of their anti-aircraft artillery and placed machine guns.[2]

According to Peruvian accounts, instead of parachuting to safety, Quiñones chose to sacrifice himself by crashing his damaged aircraft onto the Ecuadorian position, rendering the battery out of action. This version of events has been subsequently called into question by Ecuadorian military authorities, who have stated that there were no anti-aircraft guns in the area. The other planes that made up Squadron 41 continued with their mission and carried out a subsequent attack, returning to Tumbes.[22]

On July 24, a battle between Peruvian and Ecuadorian troops took place in Chacras, where the latter set up a resistance against the Peruvians. Due to constant Peruvian attacks, the defensive position eventually gave way and the post was overrun.[2][23]

Reconnaissance photo of Puerto Bolívar prior to its invasion.

On July 23, Peruvian aircraft carried out strategic bombing of the port city. On the next day, aircraft returned to attack the Aviso Atahualpa patrol boat, located at the docks of the city. The fact that the patrol boat was the target as well as the subsequent defense of it carried out by Ecuadorian troops prevented valuable explosives located nearby from being attacked and ignited.[23]

On July 28, Peruvian submarines BAP Islay (R-1) [es] and BAP Casma (R-2) [es] carried out a reconnaissance mission at the mouth of the Jambelí Strait to search for the presence of artillery. The following day, cruisers Coronel Bolognesi and Almirante Guise, during a patrol in front of the Jambelí Strait, bombed Punta Jambelí and Puerto Bolívar, in preparation for the Peruvian advance on El Oro.[2]

La Tina–Macará Front[edit]

The La Tina–Macará Front, extending from the Quebrada de Pilares to La Tina and Chinchipe, was the responsibility of the Peruvian 8th Light Division, under the command of Colonel EP César A. Salazar Cartagena.[24]

Battle of Macará[edit]

Battle of Macará
Date25–28 July 1941
Macará, Ecuador

Peruvian Victory

Peruvian forces take Macará, then withdraw on 30 July
 Peru  Ecuador
Commanders and leaders
César Yánez
Fernando del Risco
Raúl Espinoza
Units involved
Macará Detachment
La Tina garrison
Macará Detachment
450 men 60 men
Casualties and losses
3+ 18+ dead
9+ missing

According to Peruvian accounts, Macará had a large number of Peruvians, who saw themselves targeted by the Ecuadorian population. On July 25, news reached Peru that the Peruvian Consulate had been stoned and the Peruvian coat of arms dragged away. The Peruvian military authorities of La Tina protested and asked for an explanation, sending a sergeant and two soldiers to receive an answer after a two-hour ultimatum. They were greeted with a burst of machine-gun fire which killed the sergeant and wounded the other two soldiers.[2][24][23] According to Ecuador, the coat of arms fell off on its own and was moved by the consul himself. Following the event, news did reach Peru on the alleged events, but Ecuadorian authorities managed to communicate with the Peruvian consul, who offered to explain the events to the Peruvian side. However, hours later the consul instead abandoned the city along with his family. The Ecuadorians also disputed the reasoning behind the provocations by the Ecuadorian side, as it was well known that Peruvian troops had organized themselves near the city, and news had reached the area of the events taking place in El Oro province.[23]

Prior to the battle, the civilian population was evacuated, with some volunteers remaining to assist the Ecuadorian Army.[23] Fire was exchanged beginning at 2 p.m. Peruvian Commander César Yánez, head of the 7th Cavalry Regiment, supported by a company from the 19th Infantry Battalion and a battery from the 8th Artillery Group, crossed the river on July 28 and took Macará, encountering little opposition. Later, with the support of the company commanded by Captain Fernando del Risco, the Ecuadorian Army remnants in nearby Vado Limón were also defeated. The town was subsequently occupied by Peruvian forces, looted, and vacated two days later, when the Peruvian troops returned to their emplacements.[2][24]

Battles of Cazaderos, Progreso and Huasimo[edit]

Battles of Cazaderos, Progreso and Huasimo
Date29 July 1941
Result Peruvian victory
 Peru  Ecuador
Commanders and leaders
Eliecer Nájera
Carlos Orbe
Units involved
1 Civil Guard group

On July 29, the Ecuadorian border outposts of Cazaderos and Progreso were attacked by Peruvian troops, but the attacks were repelled.[23] At the nearby Ecuadorian Huasimo outpost, Peruvian and Ecuadorian troops also fought; the Ecuadorians had to retreat, leaving behind weapons and equipment.[2]

Battle of July 25[edit]

Chiriboga, circa 1941.

On July 25, in the Chacras sector, strong Peruvian contingents preceded by a tank surrounded a group of 25 soldiers commanded by Ecuadorian Lieutenant César Edmundo Chiriboga González, who refused to surrender and fought to the death, along with his troops. In the place where he and his men died, the Peruvians put together a cross with a plaque that read, "Lieutenant César E. Chiriboga González and 25 soldiers, fallen on July 25, 1941, in the line of duty."[23]

The cross was found in the aftermath of the war, after Peruvian troops had retreated from southern Ecuador.[23] Due to his actions, Chiriboga was posthumously promoted to captain and declared a national hero of Ecuador.[25]

Yaupi–Santiago Offensive[edit]

Yaupi–Santiago Offensive

Location of the offensive
Date31 July–11 August 1941

Peruvian victory:

  • Peru controls both rivers
 Peru  Ecuador
Commanders and leaders
Pedro Rivadeneyra Alberto Vinueza Mazón  (POW)
Hugo Ortiz Garcés [es] 
Salvador León Veloz  (POW)
Units involved
"Stte. Castro" garrison
"Cahuide" outpost
"Ecuador" Battalion
100–300 men 5–12 men (July 31)
11 men (August 1)
8 men (11 August)
Casualties and losses
Unknown 10 dead
12 captured

Despite the agreed ceasefire, there were armed clashes in the Amazon area, with the Peruvian troops of the Jungle Division launching, between August 1 and 2, 1941, an offensive against the Ecuadorian garrisons located on the Yaupi and Santiago rivers.

Battle of Yaupi River[edit]

According to Second Lieutenant Hugo Ortiz Garcés [es], who would be killed the next day, the Ecuadorian Yaupi outpost and its Gazipum garrison was attacked from July 31 to August 1, 1941, by no less than 100 soldiers from the Peruvian Army, armed with eight machine guns.[26][23]

Battle of Santiago River[edit]

On August 2, 1941, in Gapizum, on the banks of the Santiago River, the Ecuadorian post of ten soldiers, commanded by 20-year-old Second Lieutenant Hugo Ortiz Garcés [es], was again attacked and, unlike the previous day, overrun by Peruvian forces. Ortiz refused to surrender and was killed in action by the Peruvian soldiers, who buried him wrapped in the flag of the small Ecuadorian detachment in charge of guarding the Yaupi area. His remains were moved to Quito in 1943.[26][23]

Battle of August 11[edit]

The reinforcements requested by Ortiz Garcés arrived and began to approach the Yaupi River only a week later. The unit, commanded by Corporal Salvador León Veloz and made up of eight soldiers, began to approach the Yaupi River on August 11, when they were attacked by Peruvian soldiers. After half an hour of combat, the Ecuadorians were defeated, consolidating the Peruvian domain[clarification needed] in the Yaupi and Santiago rivers.

Naval Campaign[edit]

The Peruvian Navy had an advantage over the ill-equipped Ecuadorian Navy. The results favored Peru, such as in the successful blockade of Guayaquil.[26]

On July 25, the Peruvian destroyer Almirante Villar set sail from Zorritos with the mission of entering Ecuadorian waters and carrying out patrol and reconnaissance tasks in the area. The Ecuadorian gunboat Abdón Calderón was spotted in the vicinity of the Jambelí channel. The Ecuadorian ship, which was in transit to Guayaquil, turned 180° as soon as it recognized the Peruvian ship, fleeing towards Puerto Bolívar while firing. Admiral Villar did the same, maneuvering in circles avoiding getting too close to the coast due to its shallow depth. After 21 minutes of fire, the incident ended.[27][28]

Air Campaign[edit]

The Peruvian Air Force was more numerous and technologically more advanced than its Ecuadorian counterpart. The core of Peruvian aviation was made up of a squadron of five NA-50 fighters, known as Toritos, which were a version of the North American P-64 and had been delivered by the United States in May 1939. As in the case of armored vehicles, Ecuador practically lacked combat aircraft; at the beginning of hostilities, the Ecuadorian Air Force had only six Curtiss-Wright CW-19R Sparrow aircraft, and three IMAM Ro.37 reconnaissance and attack biplanes that were in poor condition.[24] Peru carried out limited aerial bombing of the Ecuadorian towns of Huaquillas, Arenillas, Santa Rosa, and Machala.

On July 31, prior to the cease fire that was to be effective on that date, the Peruvians were ordered to capture the city of Puerto Bolívar, which was accomplished using paratroopers from the newly formed Paratrooper Company of the Peruvian Air Force.[2]The use of said paratroopers was decisive in the capture of the city and was a surprise, since only a handful of countries had paratrooper units, such as Germany with their Fallschirmjäger, making Peru the first country in the Western Hemisphere to deploy paratroopers, followed by Argentina in 1944.[29][30][31] The paratroopers were dropped from Italian Caproni Ca.111 bomber-transports.[32]

Blockade of Guayaquil[edit]

Peruvian ships during the blockade of the Ecuadorian coast.

On August 31, 1941, and facing a delicate political and national security situation, President of Ecuador Carlos Alberto Arroyo del Río decided to retain a considerable part of the Ecuadorian Army to protect the capital, Quito.[33] This military order was given due to intelligence reports coming from the intelligence services of Brazil, Chile, and the United States, informing President Arroyo del Río and the Ecuadorian military high command that Peru was less than 48 hours from Guayaquil, leaving from Machala and Puerto Bolívar, the second port of Ecuador.

The Peruvian troops were less than 170 km from the Guayaquil metropolitan area. If Ecuador did not accept Peru's rights over the disputed territories, the Peruvian military intended to assault and capture the first port of Ecuador. Once Guayaquil was occupied, the Peruvian forces in the occupied part of the Ecuadorian highlands would leave from Loja, which is less than 600 km from the capital, and would occupy Quito, an operation that would take a maximum of 10 days, since the Ecuadorian armed forces had practically ceased to exist in September,.[26]

By the end of August 1941, Peru occupied the coast: the provinces and cantons of El Oro, Puerto Bolívar and began the blockade of Guayaquil, the main commercial port and naval base of Ecuador.[23][34] In the mountains, the provinces and cantons of Loja and Zamora Chinchipe were occupied.[26]

In the jungle, the armed forces of Peru claimed Sucumbios, Napo and Pastaza in the regions that corresponded to the former Government of Quijos, which, according to the Royal Decree of July 15, 1802, passed to the Viceroyalty of Peru and, according to the Peruvian version, Ecuador had occupied, taking advantage of the fact that Peru was facing Chile in the War of the Pacific of 1879.[26] The territory of Sucumbíos had been nominally transferred to Peru in 1922 by Colombia as a result of the Salomón–Lozano Treaty, but the act was not recognized by Ecuador.[8][9][10]

Faced with the threat to the Ecuadorian state, with Ecuadorian President Carlos Alberto Arroyo del Río keeping a sizable part of the Army in Quito, Ecuador promptly requested a ceasefire, which went into effect on 31 July 1941.[2]


Occupation of Ecuador
Ocupación del Ecuador (Spanish)
Flag of Ecuadorian–Peruvian War
Flags of Ecuador (DMZ) and Peru (El Oro)
  Civil Administration in El Oro
  Demilitarized Zone
Administration Peru (El Oro)
 Ecuador (DMZ)
GovernmentCivil administration under military occupation
23 July 1941
• Peruvian withdrawal
12 February 1942
Preceded by
Succeeded by

The Peruvian occupation of Ecuador was formally established after the ceasefire of July 31, 1941, having existed since the Peruvian occupation began with the Zarumilla offensive on July 23. After the ceasefire, a civilian administration was established in the occupied Province of El Oro by Peru.[2] A month later, on October 2, the Talara Accord (Spanish: Acuerdo de Talara) was signed, through which a bilateral ceasefire was put into place.[35] The treaty also established a demilitarized zone between both states, which would be under the Ecuadoran administration, and the observation of military representatives of the mediator countries that also signed the agreement: the United States, Brazil and Argentina.[36] Other countries involved in the mediation included the Vatican, which had acted both directly between both countries and in conjunction with the other mediators, and to a lesser extent, Chile and Mexico.[35][36] The topic of Pan-Americanism was brought up, with countries such as Ecuador proclaiming their allegiance to the movement, and other countries, such as Vichy France criticizing it, arguing that it only served to increase American influence in the continent.[35]

By the time the ceasefire had been accepted, the cities bombarded by Peru included Santa Rosa, Machala and Puerto Bolívar. Peruvian aircraft had reached Guayaquil in at least two different occasions, but the squadron sent to the city limited itself to dropping propaganda leaflets, which were republished by Peruvian newspapers La Industria and El Tiempo.[35]

Santa Rosa during the fire

A fire began in Santa Rosa on 1 August 1941, which destroyed over 120 houses. Both sides blamed each other for the fire, with the Peruvian newspaper El Comercio blaming the retreating Ecuadorian troops with a report that claimed that locals had heard an Ecuadorian commander ordering that the area was burned to a crisp.[35][37] The town was referred to as the "Lidice of America" by Italian writer Leonelly Castelly due to the scale of the destruction of the area being similar to that of the Czech town.[38]

The Peruvian administration immediately started efforts in order to exploit the newly acquired territories in southern Ecuador. A civil administration was established in order to provide a sense of normalcy to the Ecuadorian citizens that lived under occupation, which relieved the military from certain efforts. A large effort from the Northern Army Detachment during this period also went into repairing and maintaining infrastructure, such as highways and railroads, which would in turn be used to the advantage of the Peruvian Army. This effort was so intense that less than half a year later, the province had been transformed from its war-torn state.[2][35]

The Ecuadorian government also launched a diplomatic campaign, through which the Peruvian state was characterized as an expansionist state, attacking its neighbors by force and expanding its territories,[2] also intending to strengthen its ties to Spain, which had remained neutral during the conflict. Peru, on the other hand, disputed the expansionist claims, claiming that the country had no intention of acquiring new territory, intending the occupation to be temporary since the beginning.[35] During the conflict, Japan was accused of supplying Peru with weapons on more than one occasion, which increased the anti-japanese sentiment in the country to the point where Japanese organizations complained to the Ecuadorian government, which released an official communiqué denouncing the accusation.[35]

The Cantonal Council of Machala, through which the city and El Oro province were administered, moved from Machala to Guayaquil, along with several refugees from El Oro in general. Some refugees travelled north as far as Cuenca or Quito in lesser numbers. The number of refugees was reportedly so large that citizens were urged to take them in their homes, with their goods looted by Peruvian troops, and reportedly sent via plane, train or car to Tumbes. The nearby town of Tendales was one of the points where refugees travelled, either to settle in there or to leave for Guayaquil or further north. As time went on, the numbers of refugees overwhelmed the town, which was unable to provide for such a large number of people.[35][39]

With a large number of people leaving, the city of Machala, which would serve as the headquarters for the Peruvian administration, was reportedly left virtually empty, as the majority of its inhabitants had left for the north.[39] Also prior to the evacuation, a general state of disorder had taken over due to a lack of administration, with both countries reporting looting by some Ecuadorian troops fleeing north.[35]


Despite the ceasefire, the demilitarized zone and the rather autonomous administration of the occupied territory, a resistance had been established by both Ecuadorian citizens and army members, through which acts of sabotage were carried out against the Peruvian occupying force.[2] These acts ranged from lesser acts to armed confrontations between both parties that resulted in deaths on several occasions.[2] These encounters were reportedly started by both sides up until the signing of the agreement that established the demilitarized zone on October 2.[35]

Battle of Zapotillo[edit]

Battle of Zapotillo
Date10–11 August 1941
Result Peruvian victory
 Peru  Ecuador
Commanders and leaders
Pastor Bendezú
José Corso Sotil
Percy Clark
Celso Vizuete
Adalberto Gallegos
Units involved
8th Artillery Group
1st Resistance Center[40]
España Battalion

On August 10, a similar event to the aforementioned ones in southwestern Ecuador took place at the nearby border town of Zapotillo, where Peruvian troops attacked the town from their side of the Chirá river.

According to Peruvian accounts, the Ecuadorians had attempted to cross the Chirá river into Peruvian territory in order to carry out an offensive against local troops commanded by Commander Carlos Herrera Lynch in nearby Pampa Larga, and were held back from this advance in the aforementioned battle.[24]

According to Ecuadorian accounts, survivors of the battle claimed that the Peruvian attack was sudden and overwhelming, as the Ecuadorians had limited manpower and resources, compared to the Peruvian Army's manpower, horsepower, artillery and air support, all of which reportedly saw action during the battle.[23]

As a result of the artillery fired by the Peruvian Army during the battle, the town was destroyed by the time the fight was over. Like with Macará, the town of Zapotillo was occupied and vacated days later, since their orders were to safeguard the areas of Pampa Larga and Remolino.[24]

Porotillo Incident[edit]

Battle of Porotillo
Date11 September 1941
Result Ecuadorian victory
 Peru  Ecuador
Commanders and leaders
Alfredo Novoa   Jorge Maldonado
Units involved
5th Cavalry Regiment "Lanceros de Torata" Yaguachi Cavalry Group
Jaramijó Battalion
Montúfar Battalion
23 army members
3 Civil Guard members
50–100 soldiers
Casualties and losses
23 killed
64 killed

On September 11, what became known as the Porotillo Ambush by Peru or the Battle of Cune/Porotillo by Ecuador, took place in the eponymous town located 4 km from the Uscurumi bridge in El Oro, when Ecuadorian troops ambushed a Peruvian reconnaissance mission headed by Peruvian captain Alfredo Novoa.[2][23] Novoa was the highest-ranking member of the Peruvian Army to be killed during the war.

Novoa had been ordered to head the mission, which would travel on the Peruvian occupation's side of the Jubones River, with a detachment under his command. The 2nd section of the 2nd squadron of the Peruvian 5th Cavalry Regiment was chosen for the task. The mission was ambushed by Ecuadorian troops, with only two sergeants from the 5th Cavalry Regiment surviving, and a Civil Guard member being taken prisoner. The attack lasted 15 minutes, and the Peruvian mission was annihilated. Novoa was mortally wounded, but managed to write down the events that took place. Also killed was Civil Guard captain Alipio Ponce. Both Novoa and Ponce were later declared national heroes of Peru.[41][42]

The Peruvian Army thought that the attack that had taken place had been carried out by a larger army that had reached the region, which now controlled the area where the ambush had taken place.[23]

As a reprisal against the attack, the Peruvian Air Force bombarded the Ecuadorian outposts on the banks of the river and the Palao–Tenguel region, with preparations being made for the occupation of the area. Diplomatic measures, however, prevented the offensive from taking place.[2]

Peru later justified its actions in the Battle of Rocafuerte by citing this event and the one in Panupali one week later.[23]

Panupali Incident[edit]

Battle of Panupali
Date18–19 September 1941
Panupali, Ecuador
Result Indecisive
 Peru  Ecuador
Commanders and leaders
Máximo Pimentel Obregón Moisés Oliva Ojeda
Units involved
5th Cavalry Regiment "Lanceros de Torata" 4th Cavalry Group "Febres Cordero"
36 men 40 men
Casualties and losses
7 killed
2 wounded
3 killed

On September 18, what became known as the Panupali Ambush by Peru or the Battle of Panupali by Ecuador, took place in the eponymous town, also in El Oro. The attack was similar in nature to the one that occurred one week prior, where Ecuadorian troops attacked Peruvian troops patrolling the area.

The Peruvian mission was surrounded by Ecuadorian troops, divided in three groups, who opened fire on them. The Peruvians managed to hold off the Ecuadorian attack for hours, unlike their counterparts in Porotillo, despite having inferior numbers compared to their Ecuadorian counterparts. 6 hours after the ambush began, reinforcements arrived to the scene. As a result, the Ecuadorians fled the scene.[2]

As had happened one week prior, the Peruvian Air Force bombarded the area of El Placer, where the Ecuadorian troops were headquartered, in reprisal for the ambush. One Ecuadorian Army member got lost after the attack in the nearby jungle and reappeared two days later.[23]

This event was the final one of its type before the signing of the Talara Agreement on October 2.

End of the occupation[edit]

The Talara Agreement was signed on October 2, through which a bilateral ceasefire was agreed upon and enforced by both Ecuador and Peru.[35] The treaty also established a demilitarized zone between both states, which would be under the observation of military representatives of the mediator countries that also signed the agreement, and would later sign the Rio Protocol in 1942: the United States, Brazil and Argentina.[36]

The government of Ecuador, then led by Dr. Carlos Alberto Arroyo del Río, signed the Rio de Janeiro Protocol on January 29, 1942, with which Ecuador officially renounced its claim to a sovereign outlet to the Amazon River, finally establishing most of its border with Peru.[2] As per the agreement, on February 12, 1942, Peruvian troops vacated the Ecuadorian province of El Oro.[39][43] During this time, the orense government-in-exile had made the prior preparations in order to reestablish its administration of the province as soon as possible, such as the immediate reestablishment of a police force in order to establish a security body in the area, as well as the return of the refugees that had abandoned the province for the north of the country. The exiled Cantonal Council held its first plenary Session on January 18, six days after the withdrawal of Peruvian troops from Ecuador.[39]


Eventually, Peru cut off relations with the Axis Powers after a couple of months, and joined the Allies.

The placement of the border markers along the definitive border line indicated by the Rio Protocol was not concluded when the Ecuadorians withdrew from the demarcation commissions in 1948, arguing inconsistencies between the geographical realities on the ground and the instructions of the Protocol, a situation that according to Ecuador made it impossible to implement the Protocol until Peru agreed to negotiate a proper line in the affected area. Thus, some 78 km of the Ecuadorian-Peruvian border were left unmarked for the next fifty years, causing continuous diplomatic and military crisis between the two countries.

Alerta en la frontera, a Peruvian propaganda film filmed during the war, went unreleased until 2014 due to the Rio de Janeiro Protocol.[44]

In 1960, Ecuadorian President José María Velasco declared that the Rio Protocol was void. According to the Velasco Administration, the treaty, having been signed under Peruvian military occupation of Ecuadorian soil, was illegal and contrary to Panamerican treaties that outlawed any treaty signed under the threat of force.

However, this proclamation made little international impact (the treaty was still held as valid by Peru and four more countries). Peruvian analysts have speculated that President Velasco used the nullity thesis in order to gather political support with a nationalistic and populist rhetoric.

In 1981, both countries again clashed briefly in the Paquisha War. Only in the aftermath of the Cenepa war of 1995 was the dispute finally settled. On 26 October 1998, representatives of Peru and Ecuador signed a definitive peace agreement (Brasilia Presidential Act).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Compendio de la Historia General del Ejército del Perú. Biblioteca General y Aula Virtual del Ejército. 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Monteza Tafur, Miguel (1979). El Conflicto Militar del Perú con el Ecuador. Editorial Universo S.A.
  3. ^ a b Historia Militar del Perú, Ejército del Perú - Escuela Superior de Guerra, Enero de 1980, Chorrillos - Perú.
  4. ^ Uppsala Conflict Data Program Conflict Encyclopedia, General Conflict Information, Conflict name: Ecuador – Peru, In depth, viewed on 2013-07-15, Archived 27 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ a b Simmons, Beth A. (1999). Territorial Disputes and Their Resolution: The Case of Ecuador and Peru (PDF). United States Institute of Peace.
  6. ^ Sandoval Aguirre, Oswaldo (1999). Congreso y gestión externa (in Spanish). Congress of Peru. ISBN 9972772063.
  7. ^ "The Leticia Conflict". Photius.
  8. ^ a b Yepes del Castillo, Gral. Brig. EP (r) Juan E. (2021). EL TRATADO SALOMÓN LOZANO Y LA PÉRDIDA DEL TRIÁNGULO DE SUCUMBIOS UNA LECCIÓN GEOPOLÍTICA (PDF) (in Spanish). Escuela Superior de Guerra del Ejército. pp. 4–9.
  9. ^ a b Denegri Luna, Félix (1996). Perú y Ecuador — Apuntes Para la Historia de una Frontera (in Spanish). Lima: Bolsa de Valores de Lima. pp. 252–255, 315, 334–335.
  10. ^ a b Basadre, Jorge (2014). "10: EL CONFLICTO CON COLOMBIA Y LA CAMPAÑA DEL NORORIENTE DE 1932 A ABRIL DE 1933". Historia de la República del Perú [1822-1933] (PDF) (in Spanish). Vol. 16 (1st ed.). Lima: El Comercio. p. 13. ISBN 978-612-306-369-6.
  11. ^ McBride, George M. "Conclusiones del Informe Final del Asesor Norteamericano George M. McBride" [Conclusions of the Final Report of the American Advisor George M. McBride]. Congress of Peru.
  12. ^ a b c d Ecuador-Peru: Second Chaco? Time magazine, 20 June 1938
  13. ^ Col. Luis A. Rodríguez, op. cit.
  14. ^ Col. Luis A. Rodríguez, La Agresión Peruana Documentada, 2nd Edition, pp. 167–168. Quito, Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana, 1955.
  15. ^ Colección Documental del Conflicto y Campaña Militar con el Ecuador en 1941. Vol. III. Lima: Centro de Estudios Históricos Militares del Perú. 1978. pp. 773–774.
  16. ^ "Conflicto con el Ecuador: nuestras fuerzas rechazan una nueva agresión en la frontera de Zarumilla". El Comercio. 23 July 2021.
  17. ^ Luis Humberto Delgado, Las Guerras del Perú. Campaña del Ecuador: Grandeza y Miseria de la Victoria, p. 79. Lima, Ed. Torres Aguirre, 1944.
  18. ^ "Peru's Planes Bomb Ecuadorean Town". Meriden Record (AP). 6 July 1941.
  19. ^ Perez, Lucre (7 July 1941). "Peru Planes Bomb Ecuador Towns, Claim". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  20. ^ Rodríguez, 1955: 173
  21. ^ Tamayo Herrera, José (1985). Nuevo Compendio de Historia del Perú. Editorial Lumen. p. 349.
  22. ^ "Jose Quiñones - Peruvian Kamikaze Hero".
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Macías Núñez, Edison (2012). EL EJÉRCITO ECUATORIANO EN LA CAMPAÑA INTERNACIONAL DE 1941 Y EN LA POST GUERRA (in Spanish). Quito: Centro de Estudios Históricos del Ejército. pp. 110–.
  24. ^ a b c d e f Moya Espinoza, Reynaldo (2003). Breve Historia de Piura (in Spanish). Vol. XI: De Sánchez Cerro a Prado. Piura: Caja Municipal.
  25. ^ Avilés Pino, Efrén. "Chiriboga Cap. César Edmundo". Enciclopedia del Ecuador.
  26. ^ a b c d e f Nomberto, Víctor R. "Guerra de 1941". Blog PUCP.
  27. ^ Rodríguez Asti, John (2008). Las Operaciones Navales durante el Conflicto con el Ecuador de 1941: apuntes para su historia (in Spanish). Lima: Dirección de Intereses Marítimos e Información. p. 44. ISBN 978-9972764172.
  28. ^ Parte oficial peruano sobre el combate naval de Jambelí  (in Spanish) – via Wikisource.
  29. ^ "Campaña Militar del 41". Escuela Superior de Guerra del Ejército.
  30. ^ Theotokis, Nikolaos (2020). Airborne Landing to Air Assault: A History of Military Parachuting. Pen and Sword Books. pp. 137–138. ISBN 9781526747020.
  31. ^ "Asalto aéreo a Puerto Bolívar". Caretas. No. 1375. 1 August 1995.
  32. ^ Thorndike Elmore, Alberto. "El Paracaidismo en el Perú" [Skydiving in Peru]. Arriba Siempre Arriba. Archived from the original on 1 August 2008.
  33. ^ Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain. Dennis M. Handicraft, ed. (1989). Ecuador: A Country Study. Federal Research Division. Reform, Chaos, and Debacle, 1925-44.
  34. ^ Taype Castillo, Jaime Miguel (2019). Fuerzas Armadas del Perú durante el conflicto de 1941 (in Spanish). Pensamiento Conjunto.
  35. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Ríos Huayama, Cristhian Fabián (2021). Estudio del conflicto Perú-Ecuador (1941-1942) con base en el análisis hemerográfico del diario La Industria (enero 1941 - febrero 1942) (PDF) (in Spanish). Piura: University of Piura. pp. 118–119.
  36. ^ a b c Estudio de la cuestión de límites entre el Perú y el Ecuador (in Spanish). Peru: Ministry of War of Peru. 1961. pp. 71–72.
  37. ^ "Historia - Cuerpo de Bomberos Municipal del Cantón Santa Rosa". Cuerpo de Bomberos Municipal del Cantón Santa Rosa.
  38. ^ "La Benemérita cumple 162 años de cantonización". Diario Correo. 15 October 2021.
  39. ^ a b c d Castellano Gil, José Manuel (2020). La migración forzada de orenses ante el conflicto bélico peruano-ecuatoriano de 1941 [The forced migration of orenses in the face of the Peruvian-Ecuadorian war of 1941] (in Spanish). Cuenca: Universidad Católica de Cuenca.
  40. ^ Gálvez, Manuel (2021). Bicentenario del Ejército del Perú Republicano: 1821 - 2021 (in Spanish). Lima: Peruvian Army. p. 113.
  41. ^ "Recuerdan acto heroico de capitán PNP Alipio Ponce durante conflicto con Ecuador". Diario Correo (in Spanish). 12 September 2015. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  42. ^ "Conmemora 80 años de inmolación del héroe, Teniente Alfredo Novoa Cava". 11 September 2021.
  43. ^ "29 de enero de 1942". El Universo. 3 July 2016. 29.I.1942: "Hoy a las 2 a. m. se Firmó el Acuerdo Ecuatoriano-Peruano: Las Fuerzas Peruanas Saldrán Dentro de 15 Días de Nuestros Territorios (Today at 2 a.m. the Ecuadorian–Peruvian Agreement was signed: Peruvian Troops will leave our territories in 15 days)"
  44. ^ Barrow, Sarah (2018). Contemporary Peruvian Cinema: History, Identity and Violence on Screen. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 192. ISBN 978-1838608200.


  • Cortet, Pierre (October 2000). "Courrier des Lecteurs" [Readers' Letters]. Avions: Toute l'Aéronautique et son histoire (in French) (91): 4. ISSN 1243-8650.
  • Rauch, Georg von (August 2000). "Marañon 1941: une guerre entre Pérou et Equateur" [Marañon 1941: The Peruvian-Ecuadorian War]. Avions: Toute l'Aéronautique et son histoire (in French) (89): 51–59. ISSN 1243-8650.
  • Tincopa, Amaru (2019). Air Wars Between Ecuador and Peru: The July 1941 War. Vol. 1. Solihull, West Midlands: Helion and Company. ISBN 978-1-911628-67-5. OCLC 1079333059.

External links[edit]