Venezuela Claims. In 1902, due to civil strife and to gross mismanagement during the administration of Cipriano Castro, Venezuelan finances were chaotic. Great Britain, Germany, and Italy were determined to seek redress for unpaid loans and sent a joint naval expedition to the Venezuelan coast; seaports were blockaded and shelled by German and British vessels, and Venezuelan gunboats were captured. The matter was embarrassing to the United States because of the Monroe Doctrine. The powers, taking a conciliatory step, disclaimed territorial ambitions. Germany in particular had already brought its claims to U.S. attention. Theodore Roosevelt refused a request to act as arbitrator, but the United States worked toward an amicable settlement.
The claims were adjusted at Caracas in 1903, but further complications arose as to whether Venezuela should pay off the debts owed to the blockading powers before settling the claims of neutral nations; in 1904 the Hague Tribunal decided in favor of the blockading powers. The dispute became significant in international law because the scope of the Monroe Doctrine was not extended to include such cases as this; further, the heated resentment of other Spanish American nations over violation of the sovereignty of one of them resulted in the Drago Doctrine (see under Drago, Luis María).
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