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1901 - Colombia vs Venezuela

Further complications arose in August 1901, when trouble occurred between Colombia and Venezuela. On the one hand, there were grounds for believing that the Clericals and Conservatives in both countries were acting together; and on the other, it was expected that President Castro of Venezuela would not be sorry to unite his own countrymen, and to divert their attention from internal affairs, by a war against Colombia.

The Colombian revolutionary leaders had made use of the Venezuelan frontier as a base of operations, and the result was an invasion of Venezuelan territory by Colombian government troops, an incident which at once caused a diplomatic quarrel. The United States government in September 1901 offered its good offices, but President Castro refused them, and the state of affairs became gradually more menacing Meanwhile both Panama and Colon were seriously threatened by the rebel forces, who in November 1901 succeeded in capturing Colon by surprise. The situation was complicated by the fact that the railway traffic on the Isthmus was in danger of interruption, and on the capture of Colon it became necessary for the American, British and French naval authorities to land men for the protection of the railway and of foreign interests.

On 18 September 1901 the Venezuelans, who had entered Colombia, were totally routed near La Hacha, and after fierce fighting the insurgents at Colon were compelled to surrender on 29 November 1901. But the Civil War was not yet ended. For another eight months it was to continue, causing immense damage to property and trade, and the loss of tens of thousands of lives. In many towns and villages the male population was almost entirely destroyed. Not till June 1903 was internal peace finally restored. In the autumn of that same year Colombia, exhausted and half ruined, was to suffer a further severe loss in the secession of Panama.



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