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From the Banana Wars of the early 20th century through to the Football War of 1969, South and Central America has been a hotbed of revolutions, rebellions and conflicts as diverse as they are numerous. Some were small-scale affairs involving the poorly armed forces of Central American armies with rifles, machetes and a few aged machine guns. Others were full-scale conflicts involving sophisticated armies equipped with tanks, artillery and aircraft, and hundreds of thousands of troops. These wars often went largely unreported in the West, which was preoccupied with its own problems in fighting two world wars and dealing with Cold War tensions.
Fully illustrated with a wealth of rare photographs, this fascinating story sheds light on seven decades of a continent in conflict that is rarely covered in English.
A thorough introduction to the book would be necessary to explain the situation in Latin America in 1900. It would briefly describe the reasons for the turmoil in the region during the first 70 years of the 20th century. The build up to the turn of the century will be covered in the introduction with descriptions of the late 19th century conflicts given.
CHAPTER 1 - ‘WARS OF THE NEW CENTURY' 1900-14
The book will open with the story of the War of a Thousand Days which began in the last few years of the 19th Century and ending in 1903. This chapter will also feature the Banana Wars of 1900 - 1910 fought in Honduras and Guatemala. These interconnected wars supported by American trade interests involved various US soldiers of fortune who sold their services to the highest bidder. This chapter will also feature amongst other subjects the Uruguayan Civil War of 1903, the breakaway of Panama from Colombia in the same year and the Ecuadorian Civil War of 1913.
CHAPTER 2 - ‘LIBERTAD E TIERRA', THE MEXICAN REVOLUTION 1910-29
The Mexican Revolution deserves a chapter of its own and will concentrate on the main conflict from 1910 to 1920. With Villistas, Zapatarists and Federales the Revolution was certainly a colourful period of Latin American history. This chapter will also feature the resulting 1924 and 1929 Rebellions in Mexico as well as the long running Cristero War. In the latter conflict the fanatical Catholic Cristero's fought a vicious war against the Liberal Mexican Government.
CHAPTER 3 - ‘SHOESTRING CONFLICTS', WAR IN CENTRAL AMERICA 1910 -45
This chapter will feature the many conflicts, revolutions and coup d'états in the six countries which make up the Central American region over a 35-year period. Although these conflicts are little known outside Central America they include wars which devastated the region. They also caused thousands of deaths and resulted in a rapid turnaround in Presidents and military leaders. Armies involved ranged from a few hundred to many thousands sometimes armed only with machetes against machine guns. The involvement of many US and other foreigners in these wars adds another interesting dimension to the chapter.
CHAPTER 4 - ‘INTERVENTION', THE US MILITARY INVOLVMENT IN LATIN AMERICAN COUNTRIES 1910-33
This chapter covers the many military interventions in Central America and the Caribbean from 1903 until the early 1930s. It will include the Marine invasions of Haiti in 1915, the Dominican Republic in 1916 and the Pershing Invasion of Mexico in 1917. Later sections will cover the suppression of the Sandanista Rebellion in Nicaragua in the late 1920s and the Cuban Revolution of 1933.
CHAPTER 5 - ‘WAR FOR THE AMAZON' 1933-41
This chapter will concentrate on two conflicts, the Leticia Incident of 1933-34 and the Zarumilla War of 1941. Both of these wars involved armies, navies and air forces on each side with the 1941 conflict including Peruvian parachute assaults and tank warfare. Although both these conflicts were fought over thousands of miles of jungle they were none-the-less bitterly fought. Disease claimed as many lives as the actual fighting and the combatants had to fight in some of the worst conditions possible.
CHAPTER 6 - ‘DRINK TO VICTORY', THE CHACO WAR 1933-35
The Chaco War had all the weaponry and equipment of World War Iincluding tanks, planes and heavy artillery. It really was World War I in miniature with armies of several hundred thousand on each side. Fought in a desert the poorer less well equipped Paraguayans had control of most of the water hence the phase quoted by the successful commander, "I drink to victory!”
CHAPTER 7 - ‘BRAZIL IN TURMOIL' 1912-40
Brazil was to suffer a number of bitter conflicts from before the Great War until the outbreak of World War II. These wars included the 1924 Lieutenant's Rebellion, the Revolution of 1930, and the Paulista War of 1932. This latter conflict pitted the important industrialised state of Sao Paulo against the rest of the Federation of Brazil. An earlier conflict which lasted from 1914 to 1917 was the Contestado War fought over religion and territory. This chapter will also cover the growth of the Brazilian Armed Forces into a major force by the early 1940s.
CHAPTER 8 - WORLD WAR II IN LATIN AMERICA 1939-45
In this chapter the involvement of two Latin American nations on the side of the Allies in World War II. These were the Brazilian Expeditionary Corps which fought in Italy and the Mexican Squadron which fought in the Pacific Theatre. Also covered in this chapter will be the civil wars and coups which took place during the 1939-45 period, including the Argentine Revolution of 1944.
CHAPTER 9 - ‘REVOLUTION' 1945-60
Chapter 9 will feature the Cuban Revolution of the late 1950s and the Costa Rican Civil War of 1946 as well as the Guatemalan Right Wing Revolution of 1954. Also included in this chapter will be the contribution of Colombian troops to the Korean War of the early 1950s. The dictatorships of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic and Papa Doc in Haiti will also be described. There will also be a section summarising the general situation in all Latin American countries in the 1950s.
CHAPTER 10 - THE 1960S
This final chapter will feature a number of relatively well known and also lesser known subjects including the CIA supported invasion of Cuba in 1961. Also featured will be the US Invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965, the growth of guerrilla warfare throughout South America and the 1969 Football War between El Salvador and Honduras. The latter conflict cost the lives of several thousand people and was fought partly over the violence involved in the World Cup qualifications between the two countries.
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