From 8 to 18 December 1902 the future of U.S., British, German, and Venezuelan relations hung in the balance as the U.S. Navy established itself as the nation’s preeminent instrument of diplomatic influence. At the helm of this push for naval deterrence was President Theodore Roosevelt.
The turn of the 20th century marked the apex of colonial competition among the Great Powers. Germany had made a rather late start in its imperialistic drive, but its leader, Kaiser Wilhelm II, approached the challenge of territorial acquisition with enthusiasm. He even considered an invasion of the United States. Ultimately, however, he shifted his focus to other nations in the West. In May 1901, a German warship appeared off Margarita, Venezuela, and began mapping approaches to the harbor.
As 1901 progressed, European demands for repayment of Venezuelan debts became strident. While the administration of William McKinley urged Venezuelan President Cipriano Castro to make a good-faith effort to repay the loans, McKinley's vice president, Theodore Roosevelt, in a well-publicized speech, qualified this support with the observation that the Monroe Doctrine remained in effect.