The new conflict in which Chile found itself engaged had its origins in the colonial period itself. The South American republics, at the time of independence, were in fact established on the principle of the Uti possidetis, that is, of the borders that the ancient colonies had at the time of Spanish rule. But since the borders themselves had been marked with great imprecision; since, above all, some regions had never been occupied by either a colony governor or another – because they were considered unproductive regions – there was no lack of dissension among the new states. Particularly serious was the one that confronted Chile and Bolivia for the possession of the Antofagasta region, which proved to be extraordinarily rich in guano and saltpeter deposits. An attempt had been made to resolve the issue with two agreements, of 1866 and 1874: by virtue of the first, Chile renounced all claims on the territories placed up to the 23rd degree of south latitude, while Bolivia renounced those placed up to 25 °; for the territory between the 23rd and 25th parallel, a division of products and export rights was agreed. The agreement of 1874 substantially confirmed the system of distribution of the products of the territory included between tables 23 and 24 – now all left to Bolivia – adding the clause (art. 4 of the treaty) that export duties on minerals in the aforementioned region they had to be increased, and that the Chilean companies would not have suffered any burdens. It was precisely this last condition that determined the war. Following the example of Peru, which in March 1875 had expropriated all the saltpeter deposits in the Tarapacá region, ruining the Chilenians, the Bolivian government on 14 February 1878 imposed a new duty on the nitrate exported by the Chilean Company of Antofagasta. For Chile 2002, please check commit4fitness.com.
The situation for Chile was serious. Relations with Argentina, sought by Bolivia for an alliance, are very tense; united, as a result of the alliance contracted in February 1873, Peru and Bolivia, which were considered stronger, militarily. Having thwarted the danger of an Argentine intervention alongside Peru and Bolivia, the Chilean government nevertheless did not hesitate; and, since Bolivia had rejected the arbitration proposal, it accepted the open struggle.
Chile recalled its minister from Bolivia, declared the 1874 treaty lapsed, had its detachment occupy first the city and the territory of Antofagasta, then the ports of Cobija and Tocopilla, and finally the entire coastal region of Bolivia. This responded by declaring war on him (1 March 1879) and was followed (5 April) by Peru. The Chilean fleet blocked the Peruvian port of Iquique, bombed those of Pisagua and Mollendo: a Peruvian division, commanded by Captain Grau, forced the blockade of Iquique and engaged in a battle (April 21), in which each of the two sides lost one unit; but the Chilenis had to lift the blockade and Grau went so far as to harass the coasts of the enemy. Instead, in a new confrontation, which took place on 8 October in front of Cape Angamos, Grau was sunk with his ship and,
On the continent the allies had two main nuclei in Arica and Iquique. The Chilenis made a landing on 2 November at Pisagua, which is located between these two localities, despite the resistance of the enemies, who then defeated at Dolores (19 November), and later occupied Iquique; instead they were defeated at Tarapacá but remained masters of the region, because the allies, exhausted, retreated north on Arica, through the mountainous region of the Andes. After a pause of a few months, the operations were resumed in February 1880. The Chilenians landed in the Ylo bay, entered the interior occupying Moquegua (20 March), then went south, broke the resistance of the Peruvians at the Cuesta pass de los Angeles and near Tacna (May 26), took possession of this city and Arica (June 7): the whole coastal region up to Ylo was thus in their power. Having reorganized the army, while the fleet intensified the blockade, the Chilenians, in the autumn, began decisive action against the capital of Peru itself. Under the orders of General Baquedano they landed on November 18 in the bay of Pisco, about 250 kilometers south of Lima, towards which they marched. The Peruvians, on the defensive near the capital, were defeated on 13 and 15 January 1881 in Chorrillos and Miraflores: Lima was occupied on the 17th and Callao on the 18th. The major operations were thus completed; but the Peruvians continued the guerrilla warfare in the mountainous districts under the direction of General Cáceres. they were defeated on January 13th and 15th 1881 in Chorrillos and Miraflores: Lima was occupied on the 17th and Callao on the 18th. The great operations were thus completed; but the Peruvians continued the guerrilla warfare in the mountainous districts under the direction of General Cáceres. they were defeated on January 13th and 15th 1881 in Chorrillos and Miraflores: Lima was occupied on the 17th and Callao on the 18th. The great operations were thus completed; but the Peruvians continued the guerrilla warfare in the mountainous districts under the direction of General Cáceres.
In September 1881 the powers of President Pinto expired, who was replaced by the liberal Domingo Santa María. The internal conditions of Peru made it difficult for a long time to conclude the peace. Only in the summer of 1883 did General Iglesias succeed in establishing a strong enough government, which signed the Ancón peace treaty with Chile (23 October 1883), ratified by the Congresses of the two states in April 1884: Peru ceded unconditionally the province of Tarapacá; that of Tacna-Arica was to be occupied by Chile for ten years, after which a plebiscite was to be held. Once the treaty was ratified, the Chilenians cleared Lima and the rest of the territory, which remained in Peru. Peace with Bolivia could not be concluded until much later, in 1904; but an armistice, stipulated in 1884, he left the coastal region of Bolivia in the power of Chile, which, through it, communicated with the new territories of Tarapacá and Tacna-Arica. From the war Chile emerged morally and materially enlarged.
In domestic politics, President Santa María provoked strong opposition from conservatives and even a fraction of dissident liberals, for laws that introduced civil marriage, birth and death registers and opened cemeteries to all cults. However, he remained in the office until the end of his powers (1886).