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The Paquisha War was a brief military clash that took place in January-February 1981 between Ecuadormarker and Perumarker over the control of three watchposts that the Ecuadorian Army was setting up in the Comaina valley, to the east of the Condor mountain range, inside a disputed border area. The clash ended with a ceasefire, with the three bases destroyed and the Peruvian Army in control of most of the area.

In the aftermath of the incident, both sides increased their military presence up and down the Cordillera del Cóndormarker area and the Cenepa valley, starting a cycle of tensions and provocations that ended up producing another military confrontation in 1995, the Cenepa War.

While the name Paquisha War is widely use by the International Community and Ecuador, this incident is also known as Falso Paquisha War in Peru and, more impartially, as the Paquisha Incident.

Historical background

For details on the history of the border dispute between Ecuador and Peru, please see History of the Ecuadorian-Peruvian territorial dispute.

The Paquisha Incident

The dispute revolved around the possession of three Ecuadorian military outposts, called Paquisha, Mayaicu, and Machinaza, these located on the eastern slopes of the Cordillera del Cóndor (Cóndor mountain range).

The Ecuadorian possession of these posts was denounced by the Peruvians at the foreign ministers' meeting of the OASmarker, on February 2, 1981. During this meeting, the Peruvian Foreign Minister, Javier Arias Stella, called the three Ecuadorian military outposts falsos ("fake").

The Ecuadorian Foreign Minister, Alfonso Barrera Valderde, responded to this allegation stating that when Ecuador responded to the attacks on January 28, it always specified that the attacks were being made against the destacamentos (military outposts) of Paquisha, Mayaicu, and Machinaza, not against the similarly named Ecuadorian towns.

The meeting concluded with a resolution that announced a cease fire in the zone of conflict, and noted that both countries had accepted a commission of representatives from the guarantor countries to safeguard the observance of the cease fire and establish conditions for peace between Peru and Ecuador.

The Fuerza Aérea del Peru flew many sorties with A-37B, Mirage 5P and Su-22 to support these operations. The FAE flew 179 combat missions with A-37B and Mirage F-1 aircraft to counter the FAP attacks. On January 28, 1981 there was a dogfight between 2 A-37Bs of the FAE and FAP.

The Peruvian operation was a success and the Ecuadorian outpost of Paquisha, known in Peru as Falso Paquisha, was taken on February 5, 1981 by Peruvian troops with few casualties. The conflict, which occurred in a then non-demarcated area of the common border between Ecuador and Peru, ceased with the Ecuadorians being expelled from the slopes and driven back to the summit of the Cordillera del Cóndor.

As a result, the Peruvian and Ecuadorian governments, with assistance of each one of the Guarantors, agreed to separate their forces. This "gentlemen's agreement" remained in effect throughout the 1980s, with various measures taken to codify conduct of patrols encountering one another in the disputed area.


Border violence has been constant ever since, most of the time around January, which coincides with the month that the Rio Protocol was signed. Despite several proposals to complete demarcation of the border, no agreement was possible at that time.

Several military bases were built up and down the Cordillera by both countries, and the region was militarized. The Peruvian bases were serviced by helicopter, while on the Ecuadorian side, gravel roads were constructed to several military border posts.

Some sources claim that the Ecuadorian resistance to the full implementation of the border demarcation during the 1970s and 1980s was almost entirely due to domestic political struggles.

According to the USIP, after this war, Ecuador's Foreign Ministry conducted a national opinion survey that reportedly confirmed the popularity of nullification of the Rio Protocol and Ecuador's right to sovereign access to the Amazon river. Thus, in 1983, the Ecuadorian congress reaffirmed its position on the nullity of the Rio Protocol.


  1. Mena Villamar, Claudio. Paquisha: toda la verdad. Letranueva. Quito, 1981. (No ISBN)

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