881.00/1275: Telegram

The Ambassador in Spain ( Hammond ) to the Secretary of State

63. My number 62, August 25, 4 p.m. Translation of Tangier note dated August 23rd follows:

“The Government of His Catholic Majesty directs me to submit to Your Excellency the Spanish point of view regarding the problem of Tangier as defined in recent declarations by the President of the Council, General Primo de Rivera.

“Spain has demonstrated by deeds known to all, the fullness of her intentions and her spirit of sacrifice on the altars of the common interest whenever an attempt has been made to find a formula for [Page 732] settling the eternal Tangier question. She attempted in the treaties of 1904 and 191214 the amputation of Tangier, a living cell of the zone of her protectorate; she took part in elaborating the international statute even though she did not have in its effective working-out a confidence which the facts have since shown would have been unjustified; she displayed a willingness to make every renunciation in order to facilitate the regime of internationalization. Her attitude would now be the same if the international regime could last. But the failure of this attempt is notorious. The good intentions of those who created it have been shattered by the truth and the question of Tangier continues being today as it has always been a cause of eternal preoccupation for the states interested in insuring that that important port of the Straits shall not be used for military purposes and that it shall not be converted into a navy or aviation base. His Majesty’s Government is profoundly convinced that the solution which is most just and at the same time most consistent with the great interests of universal peace would be the incorporation of Tangier with the Spanish Zone in Morocco or the adoption of some other feasible and permanent solution free from the complicated and unworkable mechanism of internationalization.

“Geographically and economically Tangier is linked with the Spanish protected zone and it lacks the necessary resources to exist separately. The Spanish Government has tried to facilitate the execution of the statute and to this end it has lifted at a cost of economic sacrifices its customs cordon but it cannot of course dispense with a cordon of vigilance around the extensive zone outside Tangier which, contrary to our wishes, will always obstruct communication between that city and the interior of Morocco. The commerce of Tangier is undergoing a crisis as a result of this local isolation; the low value of the Hassani peseta which is a consequence of the separation from our Zone is making life more difficult; facilities are lacking for the employment of labor; and communism is beginning to ferment in a labor element which cannot under the present regime count upon a protective and energetic intervention by the authorities in accordance with the circumstances and necessities of the case. This Government considers unnecessary to emphasize the important influence which such a focus of communistic radiation might exert in the Islamic world and at the doors of Western Europe.

“Spain is carrying on in North Africa a work of civilization, for the international good rather than for her own profit. Her enormous sacrifices are for the purpose of guaranteeing the neutrality of that coast and opening a channel for free communication and for the commerce of all on a footing of perfect equality without discrimination. It would be unjust to deny her the indispensable means for carrying out this work which will never be completed if Tangier continues to be an asylum for rebels, a nest of conspiracies and a passageway for contraband of war. Tangier internationalized will always constitute a danger to peace. Tangier administered and governed by a responsible neutral country will cease being a constant [Page 733] source of worry for all and will result in insuring the pacification of northern Morocco and the neutrality of that place which dominates the Straits that are the key to the Mediterranean.

“The Government of His Catholic Majesty has the honor to inform Your Excellency that it has initiated appropriate negotiations simultaneously with the Governments of London and Paris, cosignatories with that of Madrid to the Statute of Tangier, and with those of Rome and Washington who were invited to adhere to the statute, which negotiations it now desires to make extensive to all the states adhering to the statute, having at the same time the honor to suggest the great convenience of holding a meeting to examine the question jointly.

“To this end it has the honor to propose the date of September 1st for holding such a meeting at Geneva and it trusts that the Government of the United States will receive this suggestion favorably.

“I avail myself of this occasion, et cetera, Yanguas.”

[Paraphrase.] The Spanish attempt to promote a conference at Geneva within so short a time seems to confirm numerous other indications that the Spanish Foreign Office is trying to establish a connection between Spanish aspirations in regard to the Tangier Zone and the position of Spain on the subject of a permanent seat on the Council of the League of Nations. [End paraphrase.]

Repeated by mail to Tangier, London, Paris and Rome.

  1. For text of treaty of 1904, see British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cii, p. 432; for treaty of 1912, see ibid., vol. cvi, p. 1025.