South America 1939: Declaration of Panama
In 1939 World War II broke out in Europe. In response, the United States and the other neutral nations of North and South America signed the Declaration of Panama, setting up the Pan-American Security Zone to warn the belligerent powers against bringing the war to the Americas.
12 Jun 1935 Chaco War Armistice▲
Following negotiations by the United States and five South American nations, Paraguay and Bolivia agreed to a truce—effective as of 14 June 1935—to end the fighting over the disputed Chaco region. This effectively brought an end to the Chaco War, a conflict which had claimed 57,000 Bolivian and 36,000 Paraguayan lives and brought both countries to the brink of bankruptcy.
23–27 Nov 1935 Intentona Communista▲
In a Soviet-inspired revolt, Brazilian non-commissioned soldiers turned against their officers in Natal, Rio Grande del Norte, on 23 November 1935, and Recife, Pernambuco, on the following day. While government forces moved to crush these mutinies, Brazilian Communist Party leader Luís Carlos Prestes led an attack on the federal barracks in Rio de Janeiro on the 27th. All three outbursts were quickly suppressed, at the cost of a few hundred lives, providing President Vargas with an incentive to suspend civil liberties and suppress left-wing political parties.
6 Jul 1936 Lima Act▲
Peru and Ecuador signed the Lima Act, establishing the “status quo line”—a boundary based on the territory they actually controlled—as a mutually recognized provisional border. However further negotiations to define an official border between the two countries broke down in 1937.
17 Jul 1936–1 Apr 1939 Spanish Civil War▲
When the leftist Popular Front narrowly won elections in Spain in February 1936, a group of officers of the Spanish Republican Armed Forces disputed the result and denounced the instability of the new government. Following months of tension between these two sides, Nationalist officers led by General Francisco Franco mounted a full-scale insurrection against the Republican government in July. The resultant civil war lasted almost three years, before the Nationalists—supported by Germany and Italy—defeated the Republicans—supported by the Soviet Union—and installed a right-wing dictatorship in Spain under Franco.
7 Jul 1937 Marco Polo Bridge Incident▲
On the night of 7 July 1937 Japanese forces based at Fengtai crossed into Chinese territory to conduct military exercises, but ended up exchanging fire with Chinese troops at Wanping. Further clashes occurred later that night and over the next day, most notably at Marco Polo Bridge on the outskirts of Beiping (Beijing). By the 11th these confused skirmishes had escalated into a full-scale battle in which Beiping and Tianjin fell to Japanese forces, making them the first shots of the Second Sino-Japanese War.
10 Oct 1938 Chaco Arbitration Decision▲
On 21 July 1938, Bolivia and Paraguay signed a formal peace treaty in Buenos Aires, Argentina, officially ending the Chaco War. After plebiscites in both countries approved the treaty in August, six presidents of American republics met to determine the final boundary in the disputed Chaco region. While the arbiters assigned most of the region to Paraguay, they also granted Bolivia the territory of Puerto Busch—a small triangular block in the eastern Chaco which provided the Bolivians with access to the Paraguay River and the Atlantic Ocean.
1 Sep 1939 Germany invasion of Poland▲
Using several German-staged incidents as casus belli, Nazi Germany struck Wieluń, Poland, with the Luftwaffe at 04:40 on 1 September 1939—the first blow of World War II. Five minutes later, the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein opened fire on a Polish military transit depot in the Free City of Danzig, with Germany launching an all out attack on Poland’s northern, western, and southern borders later that day.
3 Oct 1939 Declaration of Panama▲
The United States and the other neutral nations of North and South America signed the Declaration of Panama, setting up the Pan-American Security Zone. The signatories agreed not to tolerate belligerent acts within the zone, which extended from the US-Canada border to encompass the Americas to the south up to 1,000 nautical miles from the shore. The act mostly benefited the Allies as it restricted German U-boat activity in much of the western Atlantic.