Nueva Burdeos, Colony of

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Nueva Burdeos, Colony of

Colony of Nueva Burdeos, an abortive colonization experiment in the Paraguayan Chaco during the 1850s aimed to improve relations with Europe and increase agricultural production, but failed on both counts. The opening of Platine waterways after the fall of the Argentine dictator José Manuel de Rosas in 1852 enabled Paraguay to reach out to foreign nations for diplomatic and commercial contacts. The 1853–1854 European tour of Francisco Solano López sealed several such agreements and also opened the door to immigration into Paraguay. French representatives, responding to López's overtures, agreed to permit the transport from Bordeaux of some four hundred settlers who, with the material aid of the Asunción government, would build an agricultural colony in the Gran Chaco region (at the site of the present-day town of Villa Hayes).

The French settlers began to arrive in May 1855, but from the first everything went wrong. Few of the immigrants had had farming experience and none were prepared for the climate, the insects, and the rigors of life in the Chaco. With little help from the Paraguayans, many settlers simply abandoned the rudimentary colony and drifted into Asunción, where they were arrested for having failed to live up to a contract that few had even seen.

The poor treatment meted out to these individuals created a diplomatic impasse with France, though, at the last moment, Paraguayan officials relented and allowed the hapless colonists to leave the country. With the dissolution of the Nueva Colonia Burdeos settlement at the end of 1855, the Paraguayan presence in the Chaco was reduced to two or three minor military posts. New immigration into the same area had to wait until the arrival of the Mennonites early in the next century.

See alsoChaco Region .


John Hoyt Williams, The Rise and Fall of the Paraguayan Republic, 1800–1870 (1979), pp. 192-193.

Efraím Cardozo, Paraguay independiente (1987), pp. 136, 152.

Additional Bibliography

Guerra, Sergio. Paraguay: De la independencia a la dominación imperialista, 1811–1870. Paraguay: C. Schauman, 1991.

                                       Thomas L. Whigham