But enough of that, let's get down to business...
In another twist of post colonial fate, our last group pits a former colony against it's former rulers once again, as Chile come up against the Spanish for the second time in their history. The Spanish invaded the area now known as Chile primarily to expand their empire southward. Following the usurpation of the Spanish throne by Joseph Bonaparte the Chileans began to push for Independence. Yet their war for independence soon descended into a civil war. The Chilean military then began to look with her own borders. Chile had a series of rulers with military links, and eventually descended into a fully military government under the helm of Pinochet. A dark time in Chile's history, Pinochet used his military links to score a dramatic own goal, with numerous human rights abuses, as thousands fled the country. Thankfully today the military no longer control politics in the country.
The Spanish really didn't do themselves a great deal of favours in this group. as they come up against another former colony, Honduras. Before the Spanish got round to moving in to Honduras, the Mayans had a notable presence in the west of the country, but it was not until the 20th century that Honduras seriously embarked on any military exploits, joining the Allies following the attack on Pearl Harbor. But most excitingly for this blog (and something that I have only just discovered) is that Honduras has fought a war over a football match. The Football War broke out between Honduras and El Salvador in 1969. Numerous border disputes and the xenophobic backlash against immigrant labourers from El Salvador came to a head during a qualifying round for the 1970 World Cup as the two countries battled for a place in the finals. El Salvador invaded and four days of hostilities ensued. The war lasted a mere 100 hours, but it took a decade for a peace treaty to be officially signed. A tense military stalemate, El Salvador advanced to the World Cup in Mexico. They lost all three matches and failed to score a goal, losing 3-0 to Belgium, 4-0 to Mexico and 2-0 to the Soviet Union. Although spared from the bloody civil wars in the area, Honduran forces did battle against Marxist-Leninsit militias, and US forces established bases in the country to support the Contra guerillas fighting the government of Nicaragua. Last year, following a coup, power was transferred from the president to the head of congress. Many countries have condemned the action and refuse to recognize the new government.
MAA 221 Central American Wars
Despite coming up against two former colonies, Spain looks set to dominate this group, with their over 2000 years of military history, from Carthaginian conquests over the Phoenicians to the Roman defeat of Carthage, battles between Christian and Islamic forces, the building of a huge Empire, the Thirty Years War and The Napoleonic Wars. Although they did remain neutral in the First World War, they entered into the third Rif War in 1920, prompting the creation of the Spanish Legion (neatly copying the French Foreign Legion). Spain also holds the unenviable position of being the first country to deploy chemical weapons by air, dropping mustard gas from aircraft. The Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, and for the first time heralded the massive changes in military strategy following the First World War, but despite the support of the Nazis during the war, the victorious Franco remained neutral during the Second World War. Spain the entered into a number of conflicts in North Africa over their colony of Western Sahara. Although their results are mixed, the Spanish are almost certain to progress.
MAA 101 The Conquistadores
ESS 37 Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Armada
Ahh the Swiss. They make good chocolate, good bankers and good watches. But bad soldiers. Or at least that is the common misconception today. Sure the Swiss may have been neutral for over 500 years, but that doesn't mean the Swiss cannot fight, just that their country chooses not to. For hundreds of years the Swiss have been used as mercenaries. The most obvious modern example of this is of course the Swiss Guard, the protectors of the Vatican. However the rich Swiss heritage of mercenary operatives is dying, today it is illegal for Swiss citizens to fight as mercenaries, with the sole exception of the Swiss Guard in the Vatican. During the Second World War the Swiss did mobilize their conscript army to prepare for an invasion by Germany (which was planned but never executed). Huge sums of money were invested in building fortifications in the Alps as the Swiss had decided to only protect their mountains and abandon their cities to German invasion.
MAA 94 The Swiss at War
MAA 50 European Medieval Armies
Group Winners: Unsurprisingly I think the Spanish breeze through this round. They may have spent the last 20 years or so policing ETA, by Spains military heritage shines through.
Runners up: It had to be didn't it? Honduras qualify thanks to their aptly named conflict with El Salvador. It seems like centuries of Swiss stereotyping has firmly swung popular opinion against them.
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