Border conflicts in Latin America have a long history. Some, like the late nineteenth-century War of the Pacific involving Bolivia, Chile, and Peru, witnessed bloody fighting, occupation of enemy territory, and lasting effects and consequences felt down to the present day. Many others featured relatively short-term occupations and only minor skirmishes.

The conflict between Peru and Colombia over the Leticia trapezoid, granted by treaty to Colombia in 1922, falls into the latter category. It began in 1932 when Peruvian filibusters occupied Leticia and claimed it for Peru. It lasted until 1933, when domestic political developments in Peru led to an arbitrated settlement and a return to the status quo ante.

Certain aspects of the affair had a comic opera quality. Indeed, as Carlos Camacho Arango notes in his prologue, Mario Vargas Llosa and Gabriel García Márquez once considered collaborating on a novel...

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