9 Forgotten American Wars Your History Teacher Never Taught You

Fort Ocotal was used by United States Marines during the Occupation of Nicaragua. US Marine Corps

Occupation of Nicaragua 1912 – 1933

From 1898 through 1934 the United States intervened in numerous nations throughout Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, a series of actions known as the Banana Wars. Because of the strategic importance of trade across Central America, the United States used the century old Monroe Doctrine to occupy Nicaragua with a military force to prevent any European nation from completing a canal across the country.

American occupation began when a rebellion broke out in Nicaragua, and American troops and warships were dispatched to both ensure there were no actions taken against American citizens and businesses and to prevent intervention from Europeans. As several different attempts at establishing a stable Nicaraguan government were tried and failed, American troop levels within the country increased. By 1912, the Nicaraguan government in power had requested American military support containing rebellion within the country and American warships and troops were engaging Nicaraguan rebels.

The United States also assumed most of the control of the Nicaraguan economy, and after suppressing most of the rebellions within the country it retained troops in place to ensure fair elections. American troops were eventually withdrawn to a level of around 100 in 1916, although US warships maintained a watchful presence.

In 1927 American troops again occupied the country in response to another erupting civil war, and by the following spring over 2,000 US troops were deployed there. American troops participated yet again in military operations and in protecting financial assets such as gold mines while ensuring legitimate elections. Americans also trained government troops to assume a larger role in defending and protecting their country.

By the early 1930s the cost of maintaining an American presence was deemed to be too high in the face of the great depression, the existence of the Panama Canal meant no nation would assume the cost of building another in Nicaragua, and other strategic concerns were arising from Japan and Germany. Other than a token force, by 1932 the United States had withdrawn from Nicaragua.