(2020) 1 TWAIL Review 74-92
Published under a Creative Commons licence.
This contribution redescribes the legal discussions on intervention and sovereign debt in the Americas, considering the 1902-3 Venezuelan blockade. It assesses the legal interpretation developed by the Argentine lawyer and diplomat Luis María Drago to oppose the forceful collection of public debt under international law. The focus on sovereign debt opens space for broader interrogations on the role of states in protecting common interests in a political community, and the ways in which armed interventions can be legally justified to that end. Geopolitical issues also come to the surface when discussing the Venezuelan blockade, as this event sheds light on a critical regional moment in Latin America. In light of European attempts to keep exerting hegemony over the region – or, in the case of late German imperialism, to properly become an influential power in Latin America – the United States started to interpret the Monroe Doctrine expansively, changing the required measures aimed at defending its interests in the region. International law and the legal discussions on the enforcement of pecuniary claims played a substantive role in this context, both in enabling hegemonic projects and in resisting them.