The Paraguayan War

Paraguay's Bloody Conflict with Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay

The Paraguayan War, one of the most significant historical events in South America, was the crucible in which the modern nations of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay were formed. Though great in scope, this conflict has been largely neglected by historians the world over, as well as within some of the nations most affected by it.

"The Paraguayan War" seeks to address this gap in the historical record with a film that tells the story of the leaders, the soldiers and the people in this vast region of South America. Here for the first time is a detailed and highly informative documentary dedicated to the conflict. The film has a runtime of 74 minutes and is now available on DVD for purchase and rental to institutions.

Also known as the War of the Triple Alliance, this was the longest conflict between independent nations of Latin America, lasting from November 1864 to March 1870, when the Paraguayan leader, Marshal Solano López, was killed in the final siege inside Paraguay itself.

The War Itself

Briefly stated, the war was the result of Paraguay's desire to parlay its riches from the mate tea industry into a transformation from its status as a buffer state between Brazil and Argentina into a full-fledged regional power. This required dominating Uruguay to secure access to the sea, leading to ill-considered invasions of that country as well as the vastly larger Argentina and Brazil.

From 150 to more than 200 thousand people died in consequence of the war, whether on the field of battle or from disease or other consequences of the conflict. Paraguay's male population was devastated, while the societies of all the nations involved were irrevocably altered.

The Broader Canvas

Besides the battles themselves, "The Paraguayan War" focuses on the human drama in all the countries involved, illuminated by eyewitness accounts of the fields of battle as well as the aftermath of the struggle. The film draws on a rich storehouse of archival photographs, oil paintings, drawings, watercolors, cartoons, newspaper articles, diaries and biographies to show the war and the state of the countries directly and indirectly drawn into it.

About the Director

Denis Wright is a longtime resident of Brazil, and with his work over the years as a producer and director of news articles and documentaries, principally for the BBC and other networks worldwide, he has come to understand much of the history and cultural mores of this part of the world. The collating of material, filming and editing has taken the best part of two and a half years. It is at this point the achievement of which he is most proud.