Venezuela and Nicaragua Crises

Border disputes and the Powers

South America 1895.0514

Venezuela and Nicaragua Crises

The Acre dispute, Venezuela crises, South America in WWI, and the Chaco War (14 May 1895)

Historical Map of South American nations

In 1894, Nicaragua annexed the Mosquito Reserve, violating a previous treaty with Britain. In response, the British occupied Corinto in an attempt to pressure Nicaragua to pay an indemnity. Meanwhile, Britain was also confronting Venezuela over its border with Guiana. Both disputes angered the United States, which insisted on its right to act as arbitrator under the Monroe Doctrine, and eventually the British backed down.

Main Events

Peruvian civil war

Following the unconstitutional re-election of General Andrés Cáceres in 1894, an alliance of parties opposed to the nine-year rule of Cáceres and his Constitutional Party formed the National Coalition and called for revolution. Montoneros (guerrillas) took up arms in the countryside and, on 24 October, former president Nicholas de Piérola, having sailed from Chile, landed near Pisco to lead the revolt. Piérola reached Lima on Sunday 17 March 1895; Cáceres, confined to the government palace, agreed to resign and leave for exile two days later.

Annexation of Mosquito Reserve

In February 1894, Nicaragua occupied Bluefields in the Mosquito Reserve, deposing Miskito ruler Robert Henry Clarence and prompting the Miskito people to appeal for British protection. The British sent a warship to the coast, but the real intervention came on 6 July when the United States landed Marines and bluejackets from the USS Columbia and Marblehead to protect its business interests. The Nicaraguans returned after the US withdrawal on 7 August, abolishing the reservation and incorporating the territory into Nicaragua.

Treaty of Benítez-Ichazo

After declaring the expiration of the Treaty of Aceval-Tamayo on 3 August 1894, Plenipotentiary Minister of Bolivia, Telmo Ichazo, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay, Gregorio Benítez, signed a new treaty on 23 November in an attempt to settle the Chaco dispute between the two countries. The treaty divided the disputed area with a straight diagonal line proceeding from the Pilcomayo River at the 61º28' meridian to north of Fuerte Olimpo, but was swiftly rejected by both congresses.

Independent Territory of Amapá

Brazilian miners revolted against French domination in the disputed and gold-rich area of Amapá, proclaiming the Independent Territory of Amapá. By May 1895, skirmishes had extended to the coastal settlement of Counani, where a French Guianese expeditionary force was expelled. France retaliated by landing troops in September, after which both sides agreed on outside arbitration.

Misiones Award

Argentina and Brazil resolved their dispute over eastern Misiones/Missões and the town of Palmas by arbitration, with the US President Grover Cleveland assigning the entire territory to Brazil. A definitive treaty was signed between the two countries on 6 October 1898.

Venezuela Crisis

In response to the encroachment of British settlers into territory disputed between British Guiana and Venezuela, US President Grover Cleveland signed United States House of Representatives Resolution 252 into law on 22 February 1895. Considering British actions a violation of the Monroe Doctrine, the bill recommended Venezuela and Britain settle their dispute over the Guayana Esequiba by arbitration. After some hesitation, the British backed down and the United States Commission on the Boundary Between Venezuela and British Guiana was established on 1 January 1896.

Nicaragua Crisis

A Royal Navy squadron under flagship HMS Royal Arthur landed 400 British marines at the Nicaraguan Pacific port of Corinto in reaction to Nicaragua's refusal to pay an indemnity for its annexation of the Mosquito Reserve. Nicaragua withdrew its garrison, allowing the British to occupy the town without conflict, but also cut telegraph wires and rejected Britain's ultimatum. The United States, considering the action a violation of the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, pressured the British to withdraw on 15 May without adequate compensation.

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