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Bloqueo de 1902, El

Bloqueo de 1902, El

El Bloqueo de 1902, blockade of the Venezuelan coast by the German and British navies to demand payment of the public foreign debt. From the start of the twentieth century, Venezuela, under President Cipriano Castro, had suspended payments on the debt because of the grave fiscal and political crises throughout the country. On 9 December 1902, German and British warships took the principal ports of Venezuela, landing troops and capturing ships as a means of pressing for payment on debts that Venezuela owed those countries. The blockade was also supported by Italian forces and received the backing of France, Belgium, Holland, and other European powers. The debt was 165 million bolívars, which reached 186 million bolívars when war claims and other damages suffered by nationals of those countries were added. The situation was critical, since Venezuelan revenues were less than 30 million bolívars annually, and the Venezuelan government did not acknowledge the elevated amount of the claims.

Through the mediation of the United States, the conflict was resolved on 13 February 1903 with the signing of the Washington Protocols, through which Venezuela agreed to reinitiate payment on the debt, once the sum of the claims was dropped from 186 million to 39 million bolívars. Venezuela agreed to use 30 percent of its customs receipts to pay off its debts.


Holger H. Herwig and J. León Helguera, Alemania y el bloqueo internacional de Venezuela, 1902–1903 (1977).

Manuel Rodríguez Campos, Venezuela, 1902: La crisis fiscal y el bloqueo, perfil de una soberanía vulnerada, 2d ed. (1983).

Additional Bibliography

Herwig, Holger H. Germany's Vision of Empire in Venezuela, 1871–1914. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986.

McBeth, B. S. Gunboats, Corruption, and Claims: Foreign Intervention in Venezuela, 1899–1908. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001.

                                    InÉs Quintero

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