Great Latin American War
Date 1829-1835
Location South America, Caribbean and Mexico
Result Peace of Guatemala/Brazilian Victory
  • Dissolution of the Columbus League
  • The Latin American Cession to Brazil
    • Cession of Ecuador, Northern Ucayali and the region of Cabeça do Cachorro by Gran-Colombia
    • Cession of Southern Ucayali by Peru
    • Bolivian Cession (Part of current Northern and Southern Mao Grosso)
    • Cession of Cozumel Island by Mexico
    • Chile recognizes the Brazilian sovereignty over all land south to the parallel S46º
  • Emergence of Brazil as hegemonic power in the Americas
  • Brazilian economic hegemony over the Latin America
    • Opening of the Latin American nations' markets to Brazilian products
  • Political and economic instability in Latin America
    • Dissolution of Gran-Colombia into Colombia and Venezuela
    • Outbreak of the Chilean Conservative Revolution of 1834
    • Unification of Peru and Bolivia under the Peru-Bolivian Confederation against the Chilean threat
    • Fall of the First Mexican Republic and rise of the Centralist Republic of Mexico
Brasilban Brazil Columbus League
  • Flag of the Gran Colombia Gran-Colombia
  • Flag of Peru Peru
  • Flag of Bolivia Bolivia
  • Flag of Mexico (1822).svg Mexico
  • Flag of Chile Chile (1829-1832)
Commanders and leaders
Brasilban Pedro I of Brazil

Brasilban Joshua Costa
Brasilban Marcel de Andrade
Brasilban Maria Quiteria
Brasilban Mikael Olsen
Brasilban Carlos Konstantinov
Brasilban Will Montês
Brasilban Guilherme Monjardin

Flag of the Gran Colombia José María Obando

Flag of the Gran Colombia Carlos Valdéz
Flag of Peru Agustín Gamarra
Flag of Peru John Norrington
Flag of Bolivia Andrés de Santa Cruz y Calahumana
Flag of Bolivia Antonio Moro d'Avila
Flag of Mexico (1822).svg Antonio López de Santa Anna
Flag of Mexico (1822).svg José Martín y Flores
Flag of Chile José Joaquín Prieto

Brasilban Brazil

Total: 225,000 (used at war)]

  • Regulars: 205,000 (between 1832 and 1835 the Brazilan Army had about 452,000 men)
  • Navy:
    • Aprox. 15,000 marines
    • Aprox. 121 warships
Columbus League

Total: 233,000 regulars and militians

  • Flag of the Gran Colombia Gran-Colombia
    • Regular:40,000
    • Militia: 47,000
  • Flag of Peru Peru
    • Regular: 33,000
    • Militia: 27,000
  • Flag of Mexico (1822).svg Mexico
    • Regular: 22,000
    • Militia: 20,000
  • Flag of Bolivia Bolivia
    • Regular: 12,000
    • Militia:10,000
  • Flag of Chile Chile
    • Regular: 5,000
    • Militia: 17,000
  • Total naval force: 43 ships
Casualties and losses
Total Deaths: 83,000
  • Military Deaths: 71,000
  • Civilian Deaths: 12,000

Total Wounded: 24,000

Total Deaths: 515,000
  • Military Deaths: 203,000
  • Civilian Deaths: 312,000

Total Wounded: 107,000

The Great Latin American War was an military conflict between the newly independent and established Brazil and the Columbus League (an alliance between Peru, Gran Colombia, Bolivia, Chile and Mexico), which took place between 1829 and 1835 mainly in South America and Mexico.

The conflict was caused by the decline of the Overseas Trading Company (COU), Bolívar's ambitions of an unified Latin American nation, the imperialist desires of Brazil and the interests of some Latin American republics to use a powerful and demonized enemy (Brazil) to control the various divergent groups within their own countries.


Given the humiliating Argentine defeat in the Cisplatin War and the resulting Brazilian territorial expansion, the Latin American nations would see the young Brazilian empire as a threat and, by other side, the perfect instrument of terror to contain their own discontented masses.

Already at the time of independence, Brazil headquartered COU's colonial empire and had already gone through its industrial revolution. The Brazilian unique experience of independence, its military victories, political stability and economic prosperity, plus its monarchical government, were the opposite of the instability in which existed in the former Spanish colonies.

In 1826, still during the Cisplatine War, the certain victory of Brazil and its implications for policy in South America led Bolivar to take advantage of the situation to convene another conference for the American nations, the Congress of Panama.

It was attended by representatives of Gran Colombia (comprising the modern-day nations of Colombia, Panama, and Venezuela), Peru, the United Provinces of Central America (modern-day Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica), Chile and Mexico. The United Provinces of Rio de la Plata (Argentina) declined to attend, out of mistrust of Bolívar's enormous influence and the fact that they were still in war against Brazil. Brazil and the isolationist Paraguay (which refused previous delegates from Bolívar) were not invited.

In the United States, President John Quincy Adams and Secretary of State Henry Clay wanted the U.S. to attend the Congress, only been invited due to pressure on Bolívar; but as Hispanic America had outlawed slavery, politicians from the Southern United States held up the mission by not approving funds or confirming the delegates. Despite their eventual departure, of the two U.S. delegates, one (Richard Clough Anderson, Jr.) died en route to Panama, and the other (John Sergeant) only arrived after the Congress had concluded its discussions.

In the event, Bolivar stressed the threat of Brazilian expansionism to the young Hispanic nations. Seeing Brazil as an aspiring metropolis that wanted to succeed Spain in the Americas, Bolivar cried for an end to hostilities between what he called "sister nations" in the name of a common goal.

The grandly titled "Treaty of Union, League, and Perpetual Confederation" that emerged from the Congress and Bolivar's speech was ultimately signed by Gran Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Bolívia, and Chile. The treaty created the Columbus League, a military alliance against any threat (not officially, but in practice, Brazil).

All of these nation had their own interrests signing the treaty. Gran Colombia was in a difficult situation, its internal disagreements threatened to divide the country into three and several previous events have exposed the inevitability of the country's fragmentation. With a common enemy at their gates, Bolivar, official leader of the country, intended to hold the Gran Colombia in time to strengthen its institutions and internal links.

Peru had similar intentions, but also the desire to take Colombian lands that match the modern-day Brazilian provinces of Ecuador and Ucayali. In the case of an war against Brazil, Peru intended to negotiate a quick truce, buying time to strengthen and encourage Brazilians to attack Gran Colombia, assist them and, in turn, require the land they wanted. This strategy, however, would fail, playing Peru in the war.

Bolivia was in the most vulnerable position. Neighboring closer to Brazil, in addition to having witnessed incidents with Brazilian ranchers encroaching on its eastern borders, Bolivia wanted nothing more than a strong base of supporters to desmotivate a Brazilian aggression.

Chile wanted to expand to the lands that Brazil had claimed in Araucania, closing this gap in the defense of its borders, which was based almost entirely in the Andes.

Mexico was the League's nation more alien to the situation. Its distance from the real political theater that was occurring in South America allowed the Mexicans did not have any fear of Brazilian aggression. Howeveer, an war, and victory, against a monarchical government established by a European dynasty was the perfect chance to expunge the remaining monarchism of the former Mexican Empire and prove the supremacy of republicanism. The fall of the Mexican Empire also led to the secession of Central America from that country and to retake the lost provinces had become a primary objective for the Mexican republic, an objective that Mexico hoped would be supported by the rest of the League.

Apart from all these particular goals, all nations of the League wanted to make Brazil a common enemy for their people and use it to keep their nations united, preventing them from disintegrate due to their internal conflicts. Internal and external rivalries would be put aside, at least for now. Gran Colombia, for example, could postpone its fragmentation for at least five years.

On the other hand, Brazil has ambitious to seek war against Gran Colombia and Peru, in his ambition to get an outlet to the Pacific and bases on the Caribbean coast.

The war's break out

Feeling the Gran Colombia hold in its base of supporters, Bolivar decided to implement his policies to strengthen the country's institutions and prevent its fragmentation, and the presence of COU in the Colombian economy was a bitterly established foreign influence. Bolivar wanted to take advantage of COU's decline and its problems in its eastern colonies to undermine its power slowly. The Coup of 1827, however, would depose the liberator and speed up the process. After nationalizing the properties of COU in the country, the government urged the people against the Brazilians to attack the headquarters of the COU's business in Gran Colombia in the city of Cartagena.

Outraged, the COU's ambassador for Gran Colombia contacted the ambassador of Brazil in the country. The military vulnerability through which the COU were passing forced it to seek help from the Brazilian govrnment, which required Gran Colombia to pay reparation for all losses. Brazilian diplomats have arrived in the country aboard the NBR Cabo Frio, where they decided to receive the Brazilian ambassador before starting negotiations. Revolts by Cartagena's streets did not stop, however, it received new fire and the people, now out of the government's control, invaded two fortresses in the city and bombed four Brazilian ships, killing the Brazilian delegation and any chance of peace, in what became known as the Revolt of the Fortresses..

Because of the massacre caused by the revolt, Brazil declares war on Gran Colombia. Committed to be members of the Columbus League: Mexico, Peru, Chile and Bolivia declares war on Brazil.

Course of the war