Wars of the River Plate
In the middle of the nineteenth century, the nations of the eastern part of South America fought over Uruguay and for control of trade through the Rio de la Plata (River Plate).
Beginning early in the nineteenth century, Argentina and Brazil competed to control the Eastern Republic of Uruguay. The struggle was motivated by rivalry over trade in the River Plate estuary, the Brazilian emperor’s concern over Uruguayan republicanism, and Argentina’s ambitions to absorb Uruguay. Political infighting in Uruguay during its first years as an independent country often led Argentina and Brazil to intervene militarily.
The Triple Alliance War pitted the landlocked nation of Paraguay against Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay in Latin America’s bloodiest regional war. It started in 1864, when Brazilian forces invaded Uruguay in support of that country’s Colorado Party. Uruguay’s Blanco Party called on Paraguay for assistance. Paraguay declared war on Brazil in December and on Argentina three months later. The war did not end until 1870 with the death of Paraguay’s dictator, Francisco Solano López. Paraguay lost most of its able-bodied men as well as much territory to Argentina and Brazil. In addition to medals made during the fighting, the three allied armies agreed to an exchange of medals among their troops two decades later.