The U.S. Marines occupied this pivotal country from 1912 to 1933. Nominally, this was in order to protect the lives and property of foreign nationals in the conservative-led rebellion against liberal President José Santos Zelaya (two American mercenaries had been killed in the uprising). In reality, the motives were largely economical. Zelaya was a menace to U.S. control as he had threatened to pass responsibility for the construction of the Nicaraguan Canal to German, rather than American, hands. Private investment, which had ploughed huge amounts of money into the development of the country’s natural resources, was also in peril. The occupation maintained a fragile peace for fifteen years until Augusto César Sandino, a Nicaraguan revolutionary, led a rebellion against the conservatives from 1927. The occupying forces also became a target and withdrew in 1933.