Cenepa War (1995) – History, Causes & Consequences

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The Cenepa War (1995) – History of the Alto Cenepa War

Alto Cenepa War: Political and military confrontation between Ecuador and Peru.

Guerra Cenepa (Spanish)

Date 1995
Place Cenepa River Valley
Belligerents Ecuador vs. Peru
Outcome Agreement between both countries

What was the Cenepa War?

The Cenepa War, also known as the Alto Cenepa conflict, was a political and military confrontation between the nations of Ecuador and Peru, which occurred in 1995 and originated from territorial and border claims.

In this war, they faced:

  • Ecuador: Under the command of President Sixto Durán Ballén, who claimed the Peruvian territories of the Cenepa river valley.
  • Peru: Under the command of President Alberto Fujimori, in defense of the Ecuadorian claims on the bordering territories in his power.

Despite several years of claims and peace treaties between both nations, they had not yet been able to resolve their differences over the bordering lands of the Cordillera del Cóndor: Ecuador claimed from Peru a series of territories awarded during the Spanish viceroyalties in America.

On January 29, 1942, after a series of tense disputes between both nations, the Protocol of Peace, Friendship and Limits of Rio de Janeiro was signed, with which an agreement was established between Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Chile and later Brazil, to end the border conflicts between the two countries.

However, Ecuador later expressed its disagreement with said treaty and the relationship became tense; until, at the end of January 1995, an armed conflict broke out between the two nations, in the Cenepa river valley, which started two months of military disputes in the area.

The war ended in March 1995, after the intervention of the guarantor countries of the Rio de Janeiro protocol. There a peace agreement was signed between these countries and the struggle continued in legal terms, but without military aggression.

The territorial conflict ended with a political agreement called the Brasilia Act, signed on October 24, 1998, with which the territorial division and various conditions of peace between both nations were agreed.

Cenepa war

Photograph of an Ecuadorian helicopter landing at the military base during the conflict, by General Paco Moncayo.

Causes and Effects of the Cenepa War

Causes of the Cenepa War

The main causes of the Cenepa war were the following:

  • The lack of clarity in the delimitation of the borders between the two countries, which previously led to the signing of ineffective treaties and several diplomatic clashes.
  • The war history between the two nations, due to minor territorial conflicts.
  • The inconsistencies in the signing of the Rio de Janeiro protocol, since Ecuador claimed that it had been forced to sign it, having been militarily threatened by Peru.
  • The need for Ecuador to access the navigation of the Amazon River, prevented by the territorial division in favor of Peru.

Consequences of the Cenepa War

The main consequences of the Cenepa war were the following:

  • A large number of casualties during the armed conflict in the border area of ​​both nations.
  • Great economic loss due to military spending, in both countries with weak economies.
  • In 1998, the Brasilia Act was signed, a peace and border delimitation agreement, in which Argentina, Brazil, Chile and the United States intervened as guarantor countries.
  • Ecuador was allowed free navigation on the Amazon River, while Peru preserved the populations of Tiwinza and the Cenepa River area. Ecuador was also granted a small portion of Tiwinza but it was established that it could never be expropriated.
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