Battle of Arica Day in Chile Date in the current year: June 7, 2022

Battle of Arica Day in Chile Battle of Arica Day is observed in Chile on June 7. It commemorates an important battle in the War of the Pacific, which resulted in the Chilean victory and ended the phase of the conflict known as the Campaign of Tacna and Arica.

The War of the Pacific, also known as the Saltpeter War or the Ten Cents War, was fought between Chile and a Bolivian-Peruvian alliance over Chilean claim on the Pacific coast of the Atacama Desert, which then belonged to Bolivia. It began due to a number of domestic, economic and geopolitical reasons.

In 1878, Bolivia revoked tax privileges for Chilean companies that exploited Bolivian deposits of sodium nitrate (saltpeter), confiscated the property of the company that refused to pay and threatened to sell it. Chilean government dispatched a warship to the area, and Bolivia responded by nullifying the company’s license of exploitation.

Peru, which had a military alliance with Bolivia, sent a diplomatic team to act as mediator between the governments of Bolivia and Chile, and simultaneously began preparations for war. Negotiations didn’t lead anywhere, and Bolivia declared war on Chile.

During the first stage of the war, Chile and Peru struggled for sea control (since Bolivia had no navy, it was completely reliant on the assistance provided by Peru). Chile started the war with a naval blockade of the Peruvian port of Iquique and eventually achieved naval supremacy. After that, the Chilean government decided to occupy the Peruvian province of Tarapacá.

On May 26, the Chilean army effectively destroyed the Peru-Bolivian alliance in the Battle of Tacna, knocking Bolivia out of the war and forcing Peru to fight alone. After that, the Chilean command reorganized the troops and decided to take the port of Arica. Colonel Pedro Lagos was ordered to take the remaining Peruvian stronghold at any cost, while the defenders of Arica, who realized they would most likely be defeated, were nevertheless determined to resist to the last drop of blood.

The Chilean force launched a frontal assault on Arica on June 7. Three groups of infantry attacked the city’s three main defenses and efficiently captured the port. The defending Peruvian troops, which were severely outnumbered, fought and died as heroes. The capture of Arica ended the phase of the War of the Pacific known as the Campaign of Tacna and Arica.

As a result, the entire Tarapacá and Tacna provinces were occupied, and the Peruvian army began its advance to Lima. Some of the occupied territories returned to Peru after the war, but Arica never did. It was ceded to Chile temporarily by the Treaty of Ancon in 1884 and permanently by the Treaty of Lima in 1929.

Although Battle of Arica Day isn’t an official observance, it is widely commemorated in the Arica y Parinacota Region of Chile. In addition, the Chilean Army celebrates it as Infantry Day to honor the heroism of Chilean infantrymen who were responsible for the victory in the Battle of Arica. Interestingly, the anniversary of the Battle of Arica is also observed in Peru as Flag Day.

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Category

Anniversaries and Memorial Days

Country

Chile

Tags

Battle of Arica Day in Chile, holidays in Chile, observances in Chile, Infantry Day in Chile, War of the Pacific