The South American nation of Venezuela became deeply indebted to several European states in the early years of the 20th century. The debt`s amount was open to legitimate debate, but little effort had been made to resolve the dispute or establish meaningful repayment. In late 1902, British and German ships blockaded several Venezuelan ports in an effort to force payment of the sums owing. President Roosevelt publicly said little, but maneuvered behind the scenes to arrange a solution that would not involve a continuing European presence in the area. The matter was submitted to the Hague Tribunal, where a decision was reached in the Venezuelans` favor. From the American perspective, the crisis in Venezuela was especially troubling. Much progress had been made on the larger issue of a Central American canal; Britain had recently deferred to the U.S. for its construction. Roosevelt did not want European powers—particularly Germany—involved in the Caribbean, where they might become a threat to that grand American project.