Conflicting Narratives: The 1995 Peru-Ecuador Conflict Nationalism Gone Awry?

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On 26 January 1995, deep rooted tensions between Ecuador and Peru finally boiled over into a military conflict that would go on to last for over three years. This dispute centered over a still un-demarcated border located in a remote jungle mountain range, spanning a mere 80 km. While tensions between the two nations go back 150 years, the 1941 invasion of Ecuador by Peru is by far the most serious source of resentment. In the context of World War II, and in the spirit of maintaining hemispheric stability, the United States, Argentina, Chile and Brazil compelled Ecuador into ceding land by agreeing to the unfavorable 1942 territorial settlement known as the Rio Protocol. This accord forced Ecuador into transferring over 40 percent of its land to Peru. Clearly unsatisfied with the resultant agreement, in 1960, Ecuador unilaterally declared the Protocol null . Especially debated was the ownership over the Cordillera del Condor, the stretch of land that had been incorrectly demarcated in the Protocol.

Although occasionally punctuated by skirmishes between the two nations, a tenuous peace had ensued until 1995, when the hostilities reemerged.

While various explanations and theories have been put forward that detail the sequence of events that prompted the 1995 conflict, there has been no general consensus. Each theory, tainted by the divergent narratives offered by both the Ecuadorian and Peruvian perspective, vary in salience and legitimacy depending on one's point of view. However, what are common among most accepted explanations are their seemingly innocuous origins. This paper will not attempt to identify any one specific event that triggered the outbreak of hostilities; rather, it will attempt to answer the question: why did Ecuador decide to engage in armed hostilities with Peru? What conditions were at play, that turned otherwise harmless series of events into...