War Fought Between Honduras and El Salvador - History

War Fought Between Honduras and El Salvador - History

After Honduras lost a soccer game against El Salvador, rioting broke out in Honduras against Salvadorian migrant workers. Of the 300,000 Salvadorian workers in Honduras, tens of thousands were expelled, prompting the Salvadorian army to invade Honduras. The OAS eventually worked out a cease-fire.

Here Are 10 of the Pettiest Conflicts from History that Will Make You Shake Your Head

The course of human history has been defined by warfare. Indeed, ever since man first learned how to make tools has he used them to fight and kill his enemies. Only through battle have countries gained their independence, boundaries been established or rulers ascended to a position of power. In some cases, war has been a great source of evil, though sometimes war is justified and ends up being a force for good in the world. However, not all wars have been fought for noble reasons. Indeed, not all wars have been fought for even sane reasons. Sometimes logic goes out the window and men will fight their neighbors on the pettiest of pretexts.

Tragically, a king or tribal leader&rsquos irrationality doesn&rsquot just affect them. History is littered with examples of rulers taking offence at the smallest of things and asking the men under them to fight &ndash and die &ndash for their honor. At other times, the smallest of insults have outraged entire countries and caused two nations to clash. So, whether it&rsquos battles fought to save face or to reclaim a seemingly worthless trinket, here are ten wars that were fought over tiny matters.

The killing of a camel was enough to lead to the Al-Basus War. moddb.com

Soccer. War. Nothing More.

This story appears in the June 3-10, 2019, issue of Sports Illustrated. For more great storytelling and in-depth analysis, subscribe to the magazine𠅊nd get up to 94% off the cover price. Click here for more.

It rained hard in Mexico City on June 27, 1969, the night the men&aposs national teams of Honduras and El Salvador played for the chance to become the first Central American side to participate in a World Cup. It was the second-most important conflict being waged between those two countries at that moment𠅊nd by far measure.

The first half at Estadio Azteca was played calmly, considering what was at stake. Players displayed none of the fervent nationalism that had been stoked by their respective governments back home, none of the animosity that had exacted a grave human toll already and would turn even worse in the days ahead.

“On the field, we respected each other,” says Salvador Mariona, the now-75-year-old captain of that El Salvador team. 𠇎ven today, the ones still alive [from that Honduras team], we have a strong friendship.”

El Salvador wore royal blue, trimmed in white Honduras wore white, trimmed in royal blue, the common colors of their national flags. The countries also shared the same language, the same religion, with similar cultures𠅌ommonalities that would only make it more difficult to understand what followed two weeks later.

A few thousand soccer supporters, mostly Salvadoran, made the 700-odd-mile trip northwest for the match, the deciding contest in a three-game series. They joined Mexican locals in filling about 15,000 of the lowest seats of a stadium that held 100,000. In the eighth minute they all watched El Salvador’s tall, loping striker, Juan Ramón (Mon) Martínez, receive the ball unmarked at the edge of the 18-yard box and rocket a left-footed shot under Honduran keeper Jaime Varela’s ungloved left hand, inside the far post. 

Back home, as Salvadorans danced beside their radios celebrating the early 1𠄰 advantage, the armies of both nations�rrying the same weapons and wearing identical uniforms—stood poised across their jungled, 243-mile border.

Earlier that month, the Honduran government had begun kicking Salvadorans out of its country, hundreds at a time, then thousands, often with a nudge from a military rifle. The reason: They weren’t Honduran.

Central America, a thick rope of seven countries that links North and South America, was not a stable place to begin with. Even on a map, El Salvador, the smallest and most densely populated of these nations, appears under pressure, with the larger Guatemala and even larger Honduras (nearly five and a half times El Salvador’s size) pressing down on it from above, smushing it into the Pacific. Farmable land in El Salvador was not only scarcer than in Honduras, it was also controlled by a wealthy elite that for nearly a century had told the country’s poorest farmers they weren’t welcome.

By the 1960s, some 300,000 Salvadoran peasant farmers—campesinos—had relocated to Honduras, where they could farm freely. And in � Honduras passed a land- reform law that essentially asked all those people to go back home. The Salvadorans did not abide, so in �, Honduran president Oscar López Arellano, an impatient sort who𠆝 gained power six years earlier by military coup, decided to force them out. This unfolded as the two nations were advancing through the first round of Concacaf qualifying, past countries like Suriname and Costa Rica, destined for one another.

In the days leading up to their first head-to-head, in �, handbills appeared throughout Honduras. The first printed word was a slang term for a Salvadoran.

Guanaco: If you believe yourself decent, then have the decency to get out of Honduras. If you are, as the majority are, a thief, a drunkard, a lecher, crook or ruffian, don’t stay in Honduras. Get out or expect punishment.

The first wave of expulsions came on June 2 as 500 Salvadoran families were forcibly moved from Honduras to the other side of the border. Game 1 would be played six days later, in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, the home team winning 1𠄰. Fans of both sides clashed in the streets before, during and after the match, just as they did after El Salvador’s 3𠄰 victory in Game 2, a week later in San Salvador.

The situation at the border—the increasing deportations and the lack of room for the deported�teriorated so dramatically that on the day of the deciding third match, in Mexico City, the Salvadoran government severed diplomatic relations with Honduras, accusing its neighbors of 𠇌rimes which constitute genocide.” Recalls Mariona, the Salvadoran captain: “We were focused on qualifying, but we knew the conflict was there.”

Following the Martínez goal that drew first blood, Honduras looked disorganized. It didn’t have the fleet of attackers El Salvador had—men like Martínez, Mario Monge and Mauricio (Pipo) Rodríguez, who could score from anywhere. Honduras claimed only one player like that. It had brought José Enrique Cardona onto the team just two weeks earlier, shipping him home from Spain’s fabled Atlético Madrid club. “He was on another level, as he had been playing in Europe,” Mariona recalls of the man nicknamed la Coneja, the Rabbit. 𠇊nd that was reflected in the match.”

Eleven minutes after Martínez’s goal, the 5&apos𠂅" Cardona set up beneath a cross lofted into El Salvador’s penalty area and executed a blind bicycle kick, smacking the ball out of the air and driving it backward into the net. Goalie Gualberto Fernández could only drop to all fours as the scoreboard changed to read: EL SALVADOR 1, HONDURAS 1.

Within hours of the first expulsions, back in early June, Red Cross refugee centers on the Salvadoran side of the border had been overwhelmed. Local newspapers and radio stations seized on this opportunity to defend their nation’s honor and demonize their Honduran oppressors by claiming that the expulsions were murderous pogroms of mass rape and mutilation. But the director of the Red Cross, Baltasar Llort Escalante, said he saw no evidence of such atrocities at the refugee centers or at Salvadoran hospitals. According to the definitive 1981 book about the conflict, The War of the Dispossessed, by Thomas P. Anderson, violent human rights abuses by Honduran authorities “were isolated cases and not so widespread as generally believed in El Salvador.”

Honduran newspapers like El Cronista, meanwhile, reported “with unseemly glee” (Anderson’s words) on the 𠇌leansing of the alarming number of Salvadoran campesinos who have infiltrated our soil” (the paper’s words).

“The media definitely fueled the fire at a time when people in power needed that animosity to be inflamed,” says Dan Hagedorn, who cowrote The 100 Hour War.

Fearful of an influx of returning squatters, El Salvador’s powerful landowners threatened President Fidel Sánchez Hernández with a coup if he didn’t attack his neighbors. Hernández’s Honduran counterpart, López Arellano, needed the public to loathe Salvadorans so he could forcibly remove them (and also to distract his own people from his self-serving leadership).

Salvadorian nationals who were residing in Honduras arrive at the Red Cross headquarters in San Miguel on July 7, 1969. Following the armed conflict between El Salvador and Honduras, 14,000 nationals residing in Honduras returned to their country.

Alfredo Quant/AFP/Getty Images

The site of the first match of the qualifying series, Estadio Nacional, was turned into an internment camp for Salvadorans. June in Central America means intermittent rain and temperatures in the 80s. The venue had no roof, limited facilities and, now, a throng of intimidated refugees.

A Human Rights Subcommittee within the Organization of American States would later state that “the press and radio bear an enormous responsibility” for the war that lay ahead. Following El Salvador’s victory in Game 2, “Radio Tegucigalpa spoke of ‘the enormous quantity of [Honduran] vehicles destroyed [in El Salvador], of violated women and sadistic beatings, of men brutally wounded by the crowds,’” Anderson wrote. “El Cronista, as usual, outdid everyone else, speaking . . . of hungry and thirsty Hondurans being served urine and manure, of women stripped and violated in the streets by Salvadoran mobs. Those of us who were there saw nothing of the kind, but it was impossible to intrude any rational statements into the Honduran press.”

Polish war journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski would later tell his own stories of abuse, but their veracity was called into question when he wrote that the restless Salvadoran crowd had held up “portraits of the national heroine Amelia Bolaños” before Game 2. Bolaños, according to Kapuscinski, was a teenager who took her own life, using her father’s pistol, moments after her beloved team lost Game 1. The Amelia Bolaños story, shared in Kapuscinski’s 1991 book The Soccer War, has since been debunked. No birth or death records exist for such a person. The massive public funeral that Kapuscinski said the Salvadoran team attended—it never happened. The newspaper he cites as his main source, El Nacional, appears to have been entirely made up.

Kapuscinski’s book, an anthology of war reporting from around the world, contains the most prominent example of the misunderstanding that has taken hold over the past 50 years: that two countries took up arms against each other because of a soccer competition. The misleading title, The Soccer War, has since become ubiquitous. Even those who take issue with its accuracy use it. Anderson—student of Central American politics and history professor at Eastern Connecticut State University—was a devout enemy of the term (until his death in 2017), and yet he employed it throughout The War of the Dispossessed, even as his book title tried to rename the conflict, even as he wrote on page one that the conflict “was not over something as trivial as football.” That handy label proved as irresistible to him as it has been for the rest of the world over the last half century.

The first hint that the beautiful game would be blamed for the war came three days before the climactic match, when the Salvadoran National Assembly put forth a resolution—which members must have known was untrue�laring it “lamentable” that Hondurans were retaliating against Salvadorans as a “result of the recent international football games.”

The confusion was furthered by a brief UPI story that appeared in American newspapers the morning after the match. That report hinted at off-field tensions between the two countries but did not cover their cause. The headline dubbed the game the soccer ‘war.’

Only a single outburst marred the match in Mexico City, according to that UPI story: a brief shout of “Murderers! Murderers!” from a bloc of Salvadorans. One can only guess, but that chant likely stemmed from media reports of slain Salvadorans in Honduras, or from the confirmed atrocities committed by the Mancha Brava, a Honduran vigilante group that doled out death on behalf of the López Arellano government.

One of the most commonly repeated errors of the whole ordeal is that FIFA had moved Game 3 to Mexico City because of the tension. The truth is that the rubber match had been scheduled for a neutral site many months earlier. The war was still more than two weeks away when Honduras and El Salvador met in Mexico City, but by this time saber rattling at the border had devolved into mortar fire and skirmishes among ground troops that left handfuls of casualties. “It was a coincidence that this was happening while we were trying to qualify to the next round,” explains Mariona, trying to dispel the countless references online and in the foreign press to the soccer game that started a war. “War was already brewing.”

Salvador Mariona was El Salvador&aposs captain as it qualified for the 1970 World Cup.

Marvin Recinos/AFP/Getty Images

In the 28th minute, with the score still knotted at one, Mon Martínez found himself dribbling in space, with only a single defender between him and the goal. The mercurial striker, who would go on to play for the Indiana Tigers of the American Soccer League, made it past his opponent, outran another Honduran and ended up one-on-one with Varela. Martínez’s right-footed blast made it 2𠄱, El Salvador.

Early in the second half, a long pass by Honduran midfielder Donaldo Rosales was misjudged, then mishandled by Fernández, the Salvadoran goalie. Rigoberto Gómez pounced on the gift and booted it into an empty net for the equalizer, 2𠄲.

Neither military was particularly well equipped for war. Nonetheless, the Salvadoran Air Force (FAS) began prepping a small fleet of civilian Cessna planes for combat. They rigged special seat straps and removed passenger-side doors, turning single-engine light aircraft into bombers: A pilot had only to tilt the plane, release the strap on one of the football-sized mortar rounds seated next to him and shove the shell into the sky.

The Salvadorans also relied on the same P-51 Mustangs that had escorted American bombers over Europe in World War II. This would be the last war, anywhere in the world, in which prop planes were used. Here the Salvadorans employed an eccentric American plane restorer named Archie Baldocchi as a consultant. The 55-year-old Californian had married a Salvadoran woman years earlier and had fallen for her homeland, too. Baldocchi served the war effort by retooling one of his prized Mustangs and configuring other old warbirds for fresh fighting. He also helped recruit a handful of American fighter pilots to the cause—thrill seekers with spare time—promising them, on behalf of the Salvadoran air force, $2,500 for each Honduran plane they removed from the sky.

On the morning of July 14, FAS mechanics readied the big American planes for battle and loaded ordnance onto Cessnas, Pipers and other puddle jumpers. The plan was to strike at sunset, then fly home under the cover of darkness. 𠇋y 5:50 p.m.,” Hagedorn reports in his book, � Salvadoran aircraft were on their way to their assigned targets.”

Five minutes after Fernández’s adventurous net-minding allowed Honduras to tie the match, a new goalie, Jorge Suárez, came on for El Salvador.

“The downpour converted the field into a skating rink,” recalls Monge, now 80.

The game was becoming more physical, but the Mexican referee, Abel Aguilar Elizalde, did not raise a single card the entire match. In the 75th minute, following a hard tackle on Cardona, Elizalde blew his whistle and jogged over to the scene, eager to continue the game. But the Honduran goal machine stayed down, curled in a ball of pain. Eventually he was carried off the field. He would not return.

The Hondurans pressed forward without their star. Suárez made a point-blank save of a shot that would have tilted the game in the 81st minute. In the 88th he punched a free kick over the crossbar.

It was here, recalls Monge, that his teammates remembered “the Salvadorans suffering in Honduras.” And this, he says, “led us into a winning state of mind. We kept telling each other, ‘Tenemos que ganar, tenemos que ganar.’” We have to win.

But first: Elizalde glanced at his wristwatch and gesticulated like an orchestra conductor. Ninety minutes would not be enough time to decide the victor.

Thomas P. Anderson was interviewing a government official in San Salvador when he heard the 𠇊ngry roar of internal combustion engines in the sky,” followed by air-raid sirens. An hour later the radio informed locals that their country had just bombed Honduras.

Dan Hagedorn was at his desk near the Panama Canal when he heard the click-clack of a nearby teletype. The 23-year-old U.S. Army information specialist and historian-in-training was stunned by the words being inked across paper.

El Salvador’s air raid was messy and disorganized, foreshadowing the four-day confrontation that followed. In rural Central America, everything turns pitch black when the sun goes down, and the air war that dominated the conflict was fought largely in this dark. Even in daylight, the hostilities in July 1969 were typified by randomness and indiscretion.

“There were a lot of rounds fired, lot of bombs dropped,” says Hagedorn, five decades later, adding that innocent civilians were often caught in this crossfire. 𠇊ll of a sudden their little campesino hooch would be destroyed by a plane flying over, and they had no idea what was happening.”

The rest of the world, meanwhile, was looking elsewhere. To Vietnam. And to the heavens. As morning broke on the second full day of conflict, July 16, Apollo 11 was launching from Cape Kennedy, Fla., carrying Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon. A classified CIA report from that day passed along news that Honduran authorities were still “rounding up all Salvadorans and detaining them in the soccer stadium. A nationwide Honduran radio network last night exhorted civilians in the western highway area to grab machetes or other weapons and move to the front to assist the army.”

But by then there was no need. Just two days later, at 10 p.m. on July 18, the two governments begrudgingly agreed to a cease-fire. Each side was down to its last bullets and bombs. �h side,” says Hagedorn, “was exhausted.”

The match in Mexico City remained knotted as the first of two 15-minute extra periods trickled away. With four minutes remaining, El Salvador’s José Antonio Quintanilla won the ball in the center circle and booted it forward, high and long. His teammate Roberto Rivas chipped a back pass to Elmer Acevedo, who crossed it toward the penalty area.

The Hondurans’ last defender didn’t see Pipo Rodríguez (the Pipe, for his slim silhouette) slipping behind him, sprinting toward the goal, and so he allowed Acevedo’s ball to float right past his face, thinking his keeper would collect it. But there was Pipo, baseball-sliding in with the toe of his right boot, nudging the ball beneath Varela’s hands and into the back of the net, 3𠄲. Photographers rushed the field. Rodríguez lay on his back near the goalmouth. A teammate fell on his chest, embracing the hero as he thrust both arms skyward.

Four more tense minutes remained to be played, then an additional 15 after that, with the Salvadoran defense turning away some of the Hondurans’ ripest scoring chances. At the final whistle, the exhausted Honduran players stopped jogging, like toy soldiers in need of a windup, and sat on the wet grass. Pipo came over and consoled several of them. UPI’s “Soccer War” story noted that the match 𠇎nded in embraces and handshakes by both teams.”

The editors of El Salvador’s La Prensa Grฟica chose not to focus on the uplifting nature of the home team’s victory. HONDURAS ELIMINADO, the front-page headline blared. In essence: they lost𠅊nother editorial choice that served to inflame tensions.

"The war didn’t start because of our games," says Monge. “There was a political motive. It just happened to be during the time of the qualifiers.”

“I think we were used,” recalls Rodríguez, the hero. “The government used us as their voice. It happened in Honduras as well.”

Cristian Villalta, editor at the Salvadoran paper El Grafico, explains: “This was two military dictatorships using the games to exacerbate nationalism.” Calling it the Soccer War, he adds, is “like saying World War II broke out because of the artistic failure of Adolf Hitler in Vienna. It’s nonsense.”

And yet, sighs Mariona, “the press continues to make the same mistake.”

That mistake has had a far-reaching impact. It muddied the motivations behind a conflict whose final death toll hovered between 2,000 and 3,000, the majority of victims noncombatants. In 2001, retired U.S. diplomat Robert Steven told an oral historian, “It was a difficult job trying to get anybody in Washington . . . to take [that conflict] at all seriously. Everyone had the same reaction: Oh, it’s crazy in Central America, banana republics having a war over a soccer game or something.”

Marvin Recinos/AFP/Getty Images

Salvador Mariona displays a photo of the 1970 El Salvador World Cup team.

Wilfried van Moer scores for Belgium against El Salvador in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. El Salvador team captain Salvador Mariona trails the play.

Not only have the causes of the conflict been wildly misunderstood, but the war itself also resolved nothing. Many Salvadorans stayed in Honduras. Military scuffles continued over the next decade. A peace pact wasn’t signed until 1980𠅊nd even that didn’t stick. The border remained in dispute until �. Diplomatic relations finally resumed that year, nearly a quarter century after the war 𠇎nded.” (The two national teams didn’t play between 1970 and 1980.)

Over the last 50 years, the region’s unchecked social imbalances and broken political machinery have allowed a new scourge, gangs, to take root. Migration to surrounding countries has continued to skyrocket. More than two million Salvadorans and Hondurans came to the U.S. in 2018𠅊lmost 80 times the number that made the trip in 1970.

The soccer outcome, too, proved anticlimactic. El Salvador’s victory over Haiti in the final Concacaf qualifying stage brought some measure of happiness and pride to its citizens, but the team’s return to Mexico City for the 1970 World Cup merely provided a new flavor of chum for the game’s larger, better-trained and better-funded soccer federations. The Salvadoran players were destitute. Mariona recalls that he and his teammates had to petition their own federation, historically rife with corruption and graft, for the 2,000 colones (roughly $230) that FIFA awarded each participating player. Their World Cup results in June 1970 reflected this lack of support: three games, three shutout losses.

Buildup [ edit | edit source ]

Honduras and El Salvador met in the second North American qualifying round for the 1970 FIFA World Cup. There was fighting between fans at the first game in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa on 8 June 1969, which Honduras won 1–0. The second game, on 15 June 1969 in the Salvadoran capital of San Salvador, which was won 3–0 by El Salvador, was followed by even greater violence. Ε] A play-off match took place in Mexico City on 26 June 1969. El Salvador won the decisive third game 3–2 after extra time. That same day, El Salvador dissolved all diplomatic ties with Honduras, stating that "the government of Honduras has not taken any effective measures to punish these crimes which constitute genocide, nor has it given assurances of indemnification or reparations for the damages caused to Salvadorans". Ζ]

27 thoughts on &ldquo The Soccer War &rdquo

Me and my partner think that the Football War had a significant effect to the different countries. We are currently working on a history project for the National History Day and we were wondering if it would be possible to have an interview with you as it seems that you did a great job at the details of the soccer war. We think that your contribution would help us greatly.

The football war as far as i’m concerned is going on right now, it’s the tussle between the terminologies for the game ie the name. football or soccer

People say that it’s only a name, but already Americas blasphmous retort has spread to japan and Australia and Canada, as well in the Skysports have recently struck up a deal with the NFL as has Tottenham Hotspur Football club, to host NNFL games, there are also increasing number of Football related shows , which are using that disgusting expression “soccer” as part of the name, And now i’m hearing that sky are wanting a new franchise team to represent the UK in the NFL proper, which iv’e heard will be recognised within 5-6 years…..now i ask what’s going to happen to the name when the American sport also uses the same name even though the object they use isn’t even round and the game isn’t played predominately with the feet as is the case with proper football…where is this all going to lead to?…….many people couldn’t care less what it’s called, and will be easily converted, sky only care about their wallets, i mean why would they care?…….but i fear for the identity of the beautiful game, dark forces are at work trying to decieve the public, but some of us will not go down without one enormous fight……..so go on yanky punks take yer best shot, because we will be ready..

The Real Football War! When El Salvador Invaded Honduras Over a Soccer Game

On 14 July 1969, El Salvador invaded Honduras, leaving thousands dead and displaced on both sides. The war impacted the entire economy of Latin America for decades and only recently have tensions between the two countries died down.

And what was the spark that triggered this war? Football. That’s “soccer” to you Americans out there, but almost everyone else calls it the “Football War.” It’s extremely complicated, so here goes.

El Salvador is about five times smaller than Honduras, but in 1969, it had a population of about 3.7 million people compared to Honduras’ 2.6 million. While both countries were poor, Honduras’ greater size ensured better economic opportunities. By the late 1960s, an estimated 300,000 illegal Salvadorans lived in Honduras, increasing tensions between the two countries.

But it wasn’t just ordinary Hondurans who were upset by the influx. Much of Honduras was owned by powerful landowners and large corporations who wanted to own even more. The United Fruit Company (now Chiquita Foods International) alone owned over 10% of the country! And while they were happy to hire Salvadorans, they weren’t as happy to see so many of them living on prime real estate.

In 1966, the biggest landowners created the National Federation of Farmers and Livestock-Farmers of Honduras (FENAGH). Under FENAGH, Honduras began a massive land reform program the following year which expelled Salvadorans, even those who had legally occupied land for decades. To garner local support, some lands were given to Hondurans.

Migrant workers (both legal and otherwise) were also expelled, creating problems for those married to Hondurans. Thousands were driven out of the country on the pretext of ensuring jobs and land for locals. Tensions between the two countries reached their peak in February 1969 when a two-year accord regarding cross-border passage expired and wasn’t renewed.

Map of Honduras and El Salvador

Now, enter the 1970 FIFA World Cup qualifier. Honduras hosted the game at its capital in Tegucigalpa on 8 June 1969 and won: 1-0. But the only goal was made in overtime, so Salvadorans felt cheated.

El Salvador hosted the next game at their capital in San Salvador on June 15. The night before, locals surrounded the hotel which housed the Honduran team, banging pots, honking horns, and shouting all night to prevent anyone from sleeping. It worked. El Salvador won: 3-0.
But they were still angry about the first match, so some these locals attacked Honduran spectators. Two Hondurans were killed during riots in the city, while buses and cars headed to Honduras were targeted in the belief that their passengers were Hondurans. Exaggerated stories spoke of bloodbaths and of Hondurans being held hostage.

Honduras erupted. Salvadoran-owned shops were vandalized and looted while their owners were beaten. Salvadorans became targeted by mobs, and many were dragged out of their homes and workplaces. Stores selling Salvadoran goods in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula were attacked, regardless of who owned them.

Salvadorans began fleeing back across the border, harassed by angry crowds and by hoodlums looking to make a quick buck. Houses belonging to Salvadorans were looted and burned, while a number of women were raped.

It’s believed that as many as 1,400 flowed back into El Salvador every day, mostly on foot. El Salvador accused Honduras of committing genocide and called on the Organization of American States (OAS) to intervene, but to no avail.

El Salvador defeats Honduras in Mexico City on 26 June 1969

The final blow happened in Mexico City on June 26. El Salvador won: 3-2. Buoyed by their victory and frustrated by the lack of an international response to the humanitarian crisis, El Salvador terminated all diplomatic ties with Honduras.

Honduras retaliated on July 3 by sending a small reconnaissance plane into Salvadoran air space near the Honduran border town of El Poy. In the early morning of July 14, three Honduran fighter planes flew into the same area and may have engaged in practice strafing runs, depending on who you ask – El Salvador says Honduras did, which the latter denies.

Salvadoran soldiers near the Honduran border town of El Poy

Later that afternoon, El Salvador sent Corsairs, C-47s with wings adapted for bombs, and F-51 Mustangs into Honduras. At 5 PM, they struck the Toncontin International Airport, which is also used by the Honduran Air Force. The planes flew on to attack El Poy, Amapala, Choluteca, and Santa Rosa de Copán.

The Salvadoran Army then entered Honduras in two groups. The North Theater included a small unit of armored vehicles to supplement the foot soldiers, while the East Theater included a bigger mechanized unit with armor like the M3 Stuart, as well as Belgian automatic weapons and 105mm Howitzers.

The cities of Nueva Ocotepeque and Goascorán were the first to fall. Next came the towns of San Juan Guarita, Valladolid, La Virtud, Caridad, Aramecina, and La Labor. Cabañas stood firm, but it didn’t matter because, by nightfall, the Salvadorans were approaching the capital Tegucigalpa.

Honduras retaliated the next day by sending T-28s, F-41s, and Corsairs to attack Ilopango – the airport at San Salvador (also used by the Salvadoran Air Force). To cut off the Salvadoran oil supply, they went on to attack the industrial complex in Acajutla (El Salvador’s main port), destroying the storage tanks. El Cutuco in La Union (a major port for petroleum imports) was the next hit.

Salvadorans are rallying behind their army. The sign reads “The Glorious Salvadoran Army,” hosted by the CESSA, the country’s largest cement company.

It worked. The Salvadorans ran out of fuel and ammo, but they were still hopping mad, and they still had machetes for use on civilians.

Honduras appealed to the OAS, which ordered an immediate ceasefire. El Salvador wasn’t having any of it, demanding compensation for its expelled citizens and a guarantee of safety for those still in Honduras.

They finally agreed to a ceasefire on July 18th, making it officially a four-day occupation even though it only took effect two days later. Despite this, the Salvadorans still refused to budge. It took the threat of sanctions to make them finally pull out on August 2nd.

Honduran refugees fleeing into Guatemala as the Salvadoran Army advances

In the aftermath, 900 Salvadoran civilians lost their lives, while another 300,000 were displaced. Honduras lost more than 2,000 civilians and about 250 soldiers, while thousands became homeless. The Central American Common Market was suspended for 22 years, negatively impacting the entire Latin American economy and giving rise to military governments.

And El Salvador? Unable to handle the influx of its own citizens, it grew poorer and later suffered a 12-year civil war. Which is probably why they prefer to call it the � Hour War” (four days) because who invades another country over football/soccer? Not them.

War Fought Between Honduras and El Salvador - History

Football War Honduras vs El Salvador

Nation(s) involved and/or conflict territory [note]
Honduras, El Salvador

Published prior to 2013 | Updated: 2014-08-10 19:03:00

The Football War (or Soccer War) was a short-lived war (only 6 days) fought by El Salvador and Honduras in 1969.

Existing tension between the two countries was inflamed by rioting during the second qualifying round for the 1970 Football World Cup. On July 14, 1969, the Salvadoran army launched an attack against Honduras. The Organization of American States negotiated a cease-fire which took effect on July 20, with the Salvadoran troops withdrawn in early August.

The two nations signed a peace treaty on October 30, 1980 to put the border dispute before the International Court of Justice.

Source: excerpt from article in the open dictionary Wikipedia. Read Article

[1] Battle deaths: PRIO Battle Deaths Dataset v3.0 (link) (1946-88) ID: #110
Low: 206 High: 5,000

NOTE! Nation data for this war may be inconlusive or incomplete. In most cases it reflects which nations were involved with troops in this war, but in some it may instead reflect the contested territory.

The Battle [ edit | edit source ]

The Allied army entered Guatemalan territory at three different places. On January 29, a 500-man contingent entered through Piñuelas, Agua Blanca and Jutiapa, led by General Vicente Baquero, but the majority of the invading force marched from Metapán. The Allied army of 4,500 men was commanded by the following:

  • Doroteo Vasconcelos, President of El Salvador and Commander in Chief.
  • General Isidoro Saget, Chief of Staff of the Army, was an experienced French soldier, who had participated in prior wars against Guatemala.
  • General José Santos Guardiola, commander of the 1st Division.
  • General Ramón Belloso, commander of the 2nd Division.
  • General Indalecio Cordero, commander of the 3rd Division.
  • General Domingo Asturias, commander of the 4th Division.
  • General José Trinidad Cabañas, commander of the Honduran Division.
  • General Gerardo Barrios, commander of the "San Miguel" Division.

Additional troops were led by the Salvadorean General Ciriaco Bran y Carrascosa and by the liberal Guatemalan Generals José Dolores Nufio and Doroteo Monterroso.

Guatemala was able to recruit 2,000 men led by:

  • Lieutenant General Rafael Carrera, Commander in Chief.
  • Colonel Manuel María Bolaños.
  • Colonel Vicente Cerna Sandoval, Corregidor (Mayor) of Chiquimula.
  • Colonel Ignacio García Granados, commander of the 1st Division.
  • Colonel Joaquín Solares, commander of the 2nd Division.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Leandro Navas, commander of the Rearguard.
  • Colonel Mariano Álvarez, Artillery officer.

Carrera's strategy was to feign a retreat, forcing the enemy forces to follow the "retreating" troops to a place he had previously chosen on February 1, 1851, both armies were facing each other with only the San José river between them. Carrera had fortified the foothills of La Arada, its summit about 50 metres (160 ft) above the level of the river. A meadow 300 metres (980 ft) deep lay between the hill and the river, and boarding the meadow, a sugar cane plantation. Carrera divided his army in three sections: the left wing led by Cerna and Solares the right wing led by Bolaños. He personally led the central battalion, where he placed his artillery. Five hundred men stayed in Chiquimula to defend the city and to aid in a possible retreat, leaving only 1,500 Guatemalans against an enemy of 4,500.

February 2, 1851 [ edit | edit source ]

The battle began at 8:30 AM, when Allied troops initiated an attack at three different points, with an intense fire opened by both armies. The first Allied attack was repelled by the defenders of the foothill during the second attack, the Allied troops were able to take the first line of trenches. They were subsequently expelled. During the third attack, the Allied force advanced to a point where it was impossible to distinguish between Guatemalan and Allied troops. Now, the fight became a melee, while the Guatemalan artillery severely punished the invaders. At the height of the battle when the Guatemalans faced an uncertain fate, Carrera ordered that sugar cane plantation around the meadow to be set on fire. The invading army was now surrounded: to the front, they faced the furious Guatemalan fire, to the flanks, a huge fire and to the rear, the river, all of which made retreat very difficult. The central division of the Allied force panicked and started a disorderly retreat. General Saget ordered a retreat for the division of General Cabañas. The Honduran division who was fighting alongside the Salvadorean in the center also retreated in panic. Soon, all of the Allied troops started retreating, but more than a retreat, it was an rout. Guatemalan historian, Francis Polo Sifontes, describes the scene after the battle:

". around five in the afternoon, the fire was less intense and the eastern sun illuminated a terrible scene: amid the smoke and ash, the field was full of corpses. When the battle came to an end, people noticed that the Guatemalan Chief was nowhere to be seen the search for his body started and he was found, alive, laying on his back under the shadow of a tree, with his arms crossed and breathing slowly his right hand still brandished his sabre, covered in blood. He could not let go of it because his swollen hand did not allow it."

The 500 men of the rearguard under Colonel Navas were still fresh and pursued what was left of the Allied army, which desperately fled for the borders of their respective countries. The final count of the Allied losses were 528 dead, 200 prisoners, 1,000 rifles, 13,000 rounds of ammunition, many pack animals and baggage, 11 drums and seven artillery pieces. Polo Sifontes also noted: ". President Vasconcelos sought refuge in El Salvador, while two Generals mounted on the same horse were seen crossing the Honduran border." Carrera regrouped his army and crossed the Salvadorean border, occupying Santa Ana, before he received orders from the Guatemalan President, Mariano Paredes, to return to Guatemala, since the Allies were requesting a cease fire and a peace treaty.

The War of the Stray Dog & Other Conflicts Started Over Ridiculous Reasons

Wars have been fought for various reasons, sometimes quite logical–money, power, religion, and territory–but at other times they have been based on ridiculous pretexts. Here are seven of the most ridiculous wars in history.

The War of the Stray Dog

The War of the Stray Dog is the name given to a 1925 conflict between Bulgaria and Greece. The first version of events suggests a Bulgarian soldier ran after his dog that had crossed the border into Greece and was subsequently shot by a Greek soldier.

According to the second version, on October 18, 1925, Bulgarian soldiers crossed the Greek border, killed a Greek sentry and captain, and then attacked the Greek outpost in Belasitsa.

In response, Greece sent its troops to Bulgaria and fighting began between the two countries. The Greeks made it clear that they were not interested in Bulgarian territory, but were instead demanding compensation. Meanwhile, war veterans and volunteers were called upon to resist the Greek soldiers.

Demir Kapia, where original incident took place.Photo: Спасимир CC BY-SA 4.0

Bulgaria also appealed to the League of Nations to resolve the dispute. According to contemporary newspaper reports, the town of Petrich was captured, although other sources refute this since the League of Nations ordered the fighting to stop several hours earlier than the town was reportedly taken.

The League of Nations ordered a ceasefire and the withdrawal of all Greek troops from Bulgarian territory. Greece was also required to pay Bulgaria £45,000 in damages. Both sides accepted the decision.

The Greek ambassador to France, Karapanos, during the discussions at the League of Nations over the Greco-Bulgarian conflict in 1925

The War of the Oaken Bucket

The War of the Oaken Bucket occurred in medieval Italy in 1325 between the rival city-states of Bologna and Modena. The catalyst for the conflict was that a group of Modenese soldiers sneaked into Bologna and stole an oak bucket that was used to extract water from a well in the center of the city.

The stolen bucket inside the Ghirlandina Tower. Photo: ALienLifeForm CC BY-SA 3.0

The bucket was the property of Bologna’s authorities and the theft was immediately reported to Modena. However, the Modenese ignored the request and kept the bucket for themselves. Such audacity outraged the Bolognese to such an extent that they sent a 32,000-strong army to Modena.

Depiction of a 14th-century fight between the Guelf and Ghibelline factions in Bologna, from the Croniche of Giovanni Sercambi of Lucca.

The city of Modena only had 7,000 inhabitants, but that was seemingly sufficient to repel the attack and drive the Bolognese all the way to Bologna. Along the way, the Modenese also destroyed several castles and a sluice gate on the Reno River.

The Modenese staged a ceremony just outside Bologna’s city walls to taunt the city before going on to steal another bucket from a well outside a city gate.

Approximately 2,000 people died in this ridiculous and meaningless conflict. The bucket was never returned to Bologna.

Panoramic view of central Bologna.Photo: ilmungo CC BY-SA 2.0

The Pig War

On June 15, 1859 on the disputed San Juan Islands, an American farmer named Lyman Cutlar discovered a large black pig rummaging around his garden and eating his potatoes. This was not the first time it had happened, prompting an angry Cutlar to shoot the pig. The pig belonged to Irishman Charles Griffin who had a few more pigs he allowed to roam freely.

Large Black breed piglets.Photo: Keith Evans CC BY-SA 2.0

Cutlar offered Griffin $10 in compensation for the pig, but Griffin demanded $100. Outraged, Cutlar refused to pay anything and the British authorities threatened him with arrest. In response, Cutlar appealed to the American settlers for military protection.

A photograph of Bellue Vue Sheep Farm Sep 1859 on San Juan Island circa the Pig War

Cutlar’s killing of the pig was the catalyst for the conflict, although there were already underlying tensions due to the border dispute.

Watercolor of US Army building Roberts Redoubt on San Juan Island

American troops subsequently arrived on the island and met the British. The commanders on both sides ordered their men to defend themselves, but were instructed not to shoot first. The American and British soldiers insulted each other for several days, but no shots were fired.

British troops evacuate San Juan Island

When news of the incident reached London and Washington, officials took action to defuse this situation. During the negotiations the parties agreed to maintain joint occupation of San Juan until a final settlement was reached.

Water color of American Camp San Juan Island

The border dispute was eventually settled in 1872.

Watercolor of Belle Vue sheep farm San Juan Island at time of Pig War

The Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years’ War

The Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years’ War is recognized as one of the longest, albeit bloodless, wars in history. The war was “fought” from 1651 between the Netherlands and the Isles of Scilly, a part of the United Kingdom. Nonetheless, historians dispute whether the war actually existed.

The war has its origins in the English Civil War, during which the Royalist Navy ultimately retreated to the Isles of Scilly. The Netherlands supported the Parliamentarians and later suffered some merchant shipping losses at the hands of the Royalist Navy based in the Isles of Scilly.

The victory of the Parliamentarian New Model Army over the Royalist Army at the Battle of Naseby on 14 June 1645 marked the decisive turning point in the English Civil War.

Roy Duncan, the historian and Chairman of the Isles of Scilly Council, wrote a letter in 1985 to the Dutch Embassy in London. Duncan offered to get rid of the myth that the islands were still at war with the Netherlands. Embassy staff then confirmed that this was formally true. At the invitation of Duncan, the then Dutch Ambassador Jonkheer Rein Huydecoper arrived on the islands to sign a peace treaty.

Peace was officially declared on April 17, 1986 after 335 years of passive war. The Dutch Ambassador joked that it must have been horrifying for the Scilly residents “to know we could have attacked at any moment.”

Geological map of western Cornwall, with the Isles of Scilly (inset)

The Emu War

The Great Emu War was an operation by the Australian armed forces to exterminate emu birds in November and December 1932. The operation was prompted by a number of complaints from farmers about large quantities of emus attacking wheat crops in the Campion district of Western Australia.

Fallow caused by emus

Soldiers armed with machine guns were sent to destroy the birds, which gave the press the opportunity to call this incident “the Emu War.” The birds proved difficult to kill because they were very agile, even when badly injured.

The emu massacre did not resolve the problems and farmers again requested military assistance in 1934, 1943, and 1948, although the government rejected these later requests.

Australian soldier Ray Owen holds a deceased Emu during the Emu War.

In 1923 the Australian government created a reward system for killing emus. The system was continued and proved more effective than military intervention. In six months in 1934, 57,034 bounties were claimed.

Sir George Pearce, who ordered that the army cull the emu population. He was later referred to in Parliament as the “Minister of the Emu War” by Senator James Dunn.

The War of Jenkins’ Ear

The War of Jenkins’ Ear was a conflict between Great Britain and Spain that lasted between 1739 and 1742, and a kind of prologue to the pan-European confrontation of the War of the Austrian Succession that involved most European powers.

British operations in the Caribbean Sea during the War of Jenkins’ Ear.Photo: Frank Schulenburg CC BY-SA 3.0

British historian Thomas Carlyle suggested the ironic name in 1858 because a British merchant ship captain, Robert Jenkins, supposedly presented his severed ear to the British Parliament as evidence of Spanish violence against British navigators.

Public opinion in Britain was already ingrained due to other Spanish attacks on British ships, and the Jenkins episode served as a formal reason to start the war.

Thomas Carlyle in 1854

The Football War

The Football War (otherwise known as “the Soccer War” or “the 100 Hours War”) was a short military conflict between Honduras and El Salvador that lasted for four days from July 14 to July 18, 1969. According to the media, the war began due to the Honduran football team losing to El Salvador during a 1970 FIFA World Cup qualifier.

Honduran Air Force Vought F4U-5NL No. FAH-609 Corsair flown by Cap. Fernando Soto when he shot down three Salvadoran planes. Now on display at the Museo del Aire in Tegucigalpa.Photo: Bernardo Moncada CC BY-SA 3.0

However, the real causes of the war lie in El Salvador’s demographic problems and land reform issues in Honduras. In this context, a major factor for increased tensions between the two countries was the eviction of Salvadoran immigrants from Honduras.

Despite the transience of the conflict, several thousand people were killed on both sides.

As a side note, the Football War was the last conflict which saw piston-engined fighters engage each other.

El Salvador Soccer War

Like many other conflicts in Salvadoran history, the 1969 war with Honduras, sometimes referred to as the Football War, was rooted in economic disparity. El Salvador is a small country with a large and rapidly growing population and a severely limited amount of available land. Honduras is a larger country with a smaller population and a less-developed economy. By 1969 some 300,000 Salvadorans had drifted over the border and taken up residence in more sparsely populated Honduras. The vast majority of these Salvadorans were squatters, technically illegal immigrants whose sole claim to the land they worked was their physical presence on it. For Hondurans, the land itself was not so much the issue. What rankled them was the image of being pushed and potentially enveloped by the Salvadorans. Throughout the 1960s, the mechanisms of the Central American Common Market worked to the advantage of the more developed economies of the region, particularly those of Guatemala and El Salvador. The growth of Salvadoran-owned businesses in Honduras-- shoe stores were the most visible of these enterprises-- underscored for Hondurans the relative economic disparity between the two countries. The issue of the Salvadoran squatters, despite its lack of real economic significance, became a nationalistic sore point for Honduras, a question of adding territorial insult to perceived economic injury.

The border situation became increasingly tense during the two years preceding the outbreak of hostilities. In early 1969, the regime of Honduran president Oswaldo Lopez Arellano (1963-71) invoked a dormant agrarian reform law as a pretext to evict Salvadoran squatters and expel them from the country. The Lopez government was experiencing economic and political difficulties and saw the Salvadorans as convenient scapegoats. Stories and images of displaced refugees filled the Salvadoran press and the airwaves. Tales of violent displacement by the Honduran military began to circulate throughout El Salvador. Tension between the two countries continued to build. The incident that provoked active hostilities--and lent the conflict its popular designation as the Football War--took place in San Salvador in June 1969. During and after a soccer match between the Honduran and Salvadoran national teams, the Honduran team members were vilified and harassed by Salvadoran fans. The reportage of this incident brought matters to a fever pitch.

Beyond national pride and jingoism--which was expressed by Duarte and the PDC with a fervor equal to that of Sanchez and the PCN--the Salvadorans had other motivations for launching a military strike against Honduras on July 14, 1969. The influx of displaced Salvadoran squatters was placing a burden on services and threatening to provoke widespread social unrest. The situation was undermining the political support of the Sanchez government action against Honduras became the most expedient option to turn this situation around. Although war with Honduras almost certainly would lead to the breakdown of the CACM, the Salvadorans were willing to pay that price. In their estimation, the CACM was already close to a breakdown over the issues of comparative advantage war with Honduras would only hasten that outcome.

The actual fighting was brief. Despite early Salvadoran air strikes, the Hondurans eventually dominated in that area, destroying most of the Salvadoran Air Force. The Salvadoran Army, however, clearly bested the Hondurans on the ground. The Salvadorans pushed rapidly into Honduran territory before fuel and ammunition shortages and diplomatic efforts by representatives of the Organization of American States (OAS) curtailed their progress. As many as 2,000 people, mainly civilians, were killed in the action.

The war had a number of immediate repercussions. The Salvadorans had expended large quantities of ordnance, necessitating heavy military expenditures to replenish depleted stocks. Trade between the two countries was disrupted completely, and the CACM ceased to function as anything more than a paper entity. El Salvador lost the economic "safety valve" formerly provided by illegal emigration to Honduras land-based pressures again began to build. Although the vast majority of Salvadorans, including all the legal political parties, had united in support of the war, this unity did not last long.

Watch the video: Protecciones industriales para cuartos frios El Salvador