The Diplomatic Agent and Consul General at Tangier (Blake) to the Secretary of State

No. 311

Sir: Referring to the Instructions set forth in the Department’s Telegram No. 3 of February 25th, 1928, 4 p.m., I have the honor to transmit herewith the findings and recommendations of myself and of my Spanish Colleague here, looking to the adjustment of all outstanding American claims in the Spanish Zone, as a necessary preliminary to the recognition thereof by the Government of the United States.

In pursuance of the above Instructions, negotiations for the examination of the claims were initiated by me on February 27th, 1928, the following communication having been addressed to my Spanish Colleague on that date:—

“I have the honor to inform you that my Government has informed me that the Spanish Ambassador in Washington has notified the [Page 350]Secretary of State that you have been instructed to act with me in passing on American claims which have arisen in the Spanish Zone since the date of its military occupation. My Government has given me full powers in the matter and I have been authorized to proceed to collaborate with you in examining the claims and in preparing a joint report of findings and recommendations for submission to the two Governments, as a preliminary to the formal recognition by the American Government of the Spanish Zone in Morocco.

I would greatly appreciate your informing me, at your early convenience, whether you have received instructions in the same sense from your Government and whether you have been invested with powers similar to my own; and, if such be the case I shall be pleased to arrange with you an early meeting for the purpose of discussing plans and details in connection with our projected investigations.”

On the 7th and 9th days of March my Spanish Colleague replied to the above, by Notes which read in translation, as follows:—

“March 7th, 1928.

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your kind Note of February 27th last, informing me that you have full powers from your Government to examine with me all American claims which have arisen in the Spanish Zone since the military occupation thereof, and to prepare also with me, a joint report for submission to our Governments, as a preliminary step towards the recognition of the Spanish Zone by the American Government.

I have inquired of His Majesty’s Government if the powers which I received from it to treat with you on this matter are as ample as those conferred upon yourself and as soon as I receive a reply I shall hasten to communicate it to you, and I shall then have much pleasure in holding myself at your disposal to arrange the interview at which we shall commence our consideration of the plans and details connected with the mission which has been confided to us.”

“March 9th, 1928.

Further to my Note of the day before yesterday, I have pleasure in informing you that, replying to my inquiry, the Government of His Majesty, tells me that my powers to consider with you the American claims which have arisen in the Spanish Zone, are as ample as those which have been conferred upon yourself. I am therefore at any time from now on at your disposal to begin the examination of the claims in question.”

On April 3rd, following an informal meeting with him I addressed a further communication to my Spanish Colleague as below:—

“I have the honor to confirm, hereby, the arrangements which we have arrived at to-day in our conversation with regard to the procedure to be followed in the examination and settlement of American claims in the Spanish Zone, and I have designated Mr. Michael A. El-Khazen, Interpreter of the American Consulate at Casablanca, as my subordinate coadjutor for the preliminary examination of the claims and the Arabic documents in connection therewith.

[Page 351]

I would greatly appreciate a confirmation on your part of this understanding of our verbal agreement, and an official notification of the designation of the person selected by you to cooperate with Mr. El-Khazen.

Mr. El-Khazen arrived in Tangier yesterday for the purpose of carrying out this work and is now at the disposition of the Spanish subordinate delegate.

It is naturally understood that any agreement reached between our respective subordinate delegates will be subject to our confirmation while any disagreement between them will be referred to us for adjustment.”

On April 4th, Señor Pla confirmed our verbal agreement by a communication reading in translation as follows:—

“I have the pleasure to acknowledge the receipt of your kind Note of yesterday confirming the agreement which we reached on that date, for the examination and settlement of American claims in the Spanish Zone of Morocco, and by which you inform me that you have designated Mr. Michael A. El-Khazen, Interpreter of the American Consulate at Casablanca, to examine on your behalf the said claims and the Arabic documents connected therewith.

On my part, I have also the pleasure to confirm by this Note the aforementioned agreement and to inform you that I have designated Don Manuel Cortés, First Interpreter of this Consulate-General to examine the said claims on my behalf.

It is of course understood that all agreements arrived at by our respective representatives, shall be submitted for our confirmation, and all claims upon which they have been unable to agree shall be submitted to our special examination.”

On receipt of the foregoing Note, Mr. Michael A. El-Khazen, Interpreter at the Casablanca Consulate, after a preliminary discussion with me, commenced the technical examination of the claims with his Spanish Colleague.

The pourparlers between the two subordinate Interpreters were arduous and somewhat prolonged, not only on account of the difficulty of the cases examined but, owing to the constant interruption brought about by the other official activities of Señor Cortés, and also by the necessity for the Interpreters to visit various localities at the Spanish Zone for the purpose of estimating damages involved. A condensed statement of the evidence on which the claims were based and the minutes of their various meetings are attached hereto, (Enclosure No. 2),12 the conclusions of each day’s session and the minutes thereof having been signed by the examiners. I pause at this juncture to record my satisfaction at the able manner in which the intricate claims were unravelled and analysed by Mr. El-Khazen whose penetration and experience combined so highly qualify him for negotiations relating to native affairs. I also had tangible evidence of the single minded integrity and fairness of temper displayed by my Spanish Colleague [Page 352]in the course of the negotiations, which at no time were ever characterized by any spirit of cavil.

I venture to assume that the nature of the Enclosures will dispense with any necessity to enter here into further analysis of the various claims passed upon. I would however draw the Department’s attention to one claim, namely, that of Driss El-Kittany, marked No. 1 in the Dossier.13

This case under normal conditions should have caused no difficulty whatever, calling perhaps but for a small indemnity, had the Spanish Government elected to restitute the property of which it had illegally deprived this American protégé in the year 1913. It appears however probable that the Spanish Government, for considerations of internal policy and other reasons of its own, may desire to retain this property for colonial exploitation. With a view to this eventuality the value of the property concerned has been carefully assessed after great difficulties and prolonged investigations. The amount of this claim, if the Spanish Government does not return the property, has been fixed at Spanish Pesetas: 320,000 for the value of the land, plus Spanish Pesetas: 80,000 in respect of an indemnity for 16 years during which the rightful owner was deprived of its use. In résumé therefore it may be stated that the claims themselves amount in reality but to about Spanish Pesetas: 200,000, a sum which was well within the figure of my own personal estimation of the reasonable assessment at which legitimate claims for damages would be fixed.

The Department will note that the joint Report, (Enclosure No. 1), signed by myself and by my Spanish Colleague, embodies a reservation providing for a suspension of payment of three claims in respect of robberies and theft, amounting in the aggregate to Spanish Pesetas: 23,211.60, pending reference of the matter to the two Governments, after recognition by the American Government of the Spanish Zone has taken place, provided all other claims, as ratified by the two Representatives, are settled without question. I will not discuss at this time the responsibility in principle of the Maghzen in regard to claims of private individuals for robbery and theft committed in Morocco, although I am prepared, at the proper time, to submit evidence on this point if required.

In view of the importance, from the American point of view of the early recognition of the Spanish Zone, and considering the extremely favorable settlements otherwise arrived at, I was reluctant to delay, if not to jeopardize, a speedy settlement of the claims by insisting too meticulously, upon the point of the reservation involved, which is, as a matter of fact open to some debate.

From practical points of view also it was not logical further to hold up the settlement of long pending claims, involving considerable [Page 353]sums of money over the relatively minor difference of a few thousand Pesetas. Furthermore, I had pressed my own arguments with sufficient success to warrant on my part some slight relaxation, in the demands, from the broad stand point of friendly compromise, tending in the direction of expeditious settlement, without prejudice to principles.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

In pursuance of the Instructions contained in the Department’s Telegram No. 9 of June 22nd, 1928, 11 a.m.,14 I have mailed to Ambassador Hammond copies of all pertinent papers, connected with the recognition of the Spanish Zone of Morocco, and I will now furnish him with a copy of this Despatch and accompanying Enclosures.

I have requested Ambassador Hammond to advise me when it will be opportune for me to proceed to Madrid on a visit not exceeding 10 days for the purposes of consultation with him in connection with his discussions with the Spanish Government on the joint report made by my Spanish Colleague and myself, in the event that he should deem my presence useful, and I will depart for Madrid upon receiving his advice.

Before concluding, I wish to state that, in my opinion, it would be advisable, from all points of view, for American recognition of the Spanish Zone, to be effected without any delay following the settlement of the claims. Aside from the favorable impression created by prompt action, in this regard, early recognition would tend to remove the conditions in which further claims might arise, and would normalize our standing in that Zone vis-à-vis the Authorities in regard to the development of American trade and enterprise and participation in contracts for Public Works. It is also my opinion that the immediate appointment of a Consular Officer to reside at Tetuan, is an urgent necessity and should be provided for as soon after recognition, as the exigencies of the Department will permit.

I have [etc.]

Maxwell Blake

Joint Report on Settlement of American Claims in the Spanish Zone of Morocco, Signed by the American Diplomatic Agent and Consul General at Tangier (Blake) and by the Spanish Minister Plenipotentiary and Consul General at Tangier (Pla), July 12, 1928

The undersigned, Antonio Pla y da Folgueira, Minister Plenipotentiary of H. C. M., Consul-General of Spain in Tangier and Maxwell Blake, Diplomatic Agent and Consul-General of the United States of America in Tangier, appointed with full powers by their [Page 354]respective Governments to draw up a joint report upon the legitimacy of the claims of the citizens and protégés of the United States of America, in respect of the damages which they allege were caused to them in the Spanish Zone because of the insurrection, this report to serve for the liquidation of the aforesaid claims by the Governments as a preliminary to the recognition by the United States of America of the aforesaid Zone, charged D. Manuel Cortés, Interpreter of the Consulate-General of Spain and Mr. Michael A. El-Khazen, Interpreter of the Diplomatic Agency of the United States, to examine the said claims, and gave them the necessary instructions to this effect.

Señor Cortés and Mr. El-Khazen held several meetings, the Minutes of which are attached hereto, examined the documents presented by the claimants in support of their rights, and made journeys to Tetuan and to Alcazar, reaching the conclusions recorded in their Minutes, and agreed upon a total sum of 637,295.15 Pesetas as the aggregate amount of the aforementioned claims.

Messrs. Pla and Blake finding that Messrs. Cortés and El-Khazen, had faithfully interpreted their instructions, being inspired by the friendly relations existing between the two countries and in a spirit of equity, which, perhaps rather than strict justice, should preside over negotiations of this character, ratified (made theirs) the conclusions reached by Messrs. Cortés and El-Khazen, and agreed to submit them to their Governments for which purpose they have signed these presents, in quadruplicate, in Tangier on the twelfth day of July One Thousand Nine Hundred and Twenty-Eight.

Antonio Pla Maxwell Blake

Señor Pla, however, must make full reservations in respect of the following claims:—

Thamy Slawee { Robbery of cattle 11,222.00
Robbery of a mare 555.55
Robbery of horse 277.75
Robbery of mule 555.55
Mohamed Oknin { Robbery of animals and goods near R’Gaia 4,188.25
Singer Company { For 14 sewing machines destroyed or stolen at the time of the rebellion of the Eastern Zone 6,412.50

All these as a matter of principle, Señor Pla’s understanding being that no Government can be made responsible for damages caused by rebels, and the last, furthermore, on account of the fact that the Singer Company has been able to present no document in support of the existence of the machines, but without the implication of the slightest doubt as to the honorability or veracity of the Company.

Antonio Pla

[Page 355]

The undersigned, Maxwell Blake, Diplomatic Agent and Consul-General of the United States of America, has given the fullest attention to the considerations opposed by his Spanish Colleague, to items of the above claims in respect of thefts and robberies committed by marauders and other malefactors, on the ground that such grievances do not properly fall within the purview of adjustments, such as the present, between Government and Government.

The American Diplomatic Agent, however, points out that these claims are not made against the Government of His Catholic Majesty, but in effect against the Moorish Government, and that the Powers have invariably and successfully insisted that the scope of the Maghzen’s responsibility covered not only such matters as these but even the recovery of credits due to foreign merchants which the latter were unable to collect from native debtors as a result of the disturbed condition of the country.

The settlement of such claims was admitted by the Casablanca Claims Commission of 1908 and by the Arbitral Commission at Tangier which dealt with the foreign claims reimbursed out of the French-Moroccan Loan of 1910.

Consequently, it is evident that the American Representative is unable to discard the right of the American Government in principle to demand satisfaction of the claims in question. On the other hand, he would be extremely reluctant to find that these relatively minor claims should cause a delay in the execution of the complete agreement which has been so happily and successfully reached in the frank and cordial negotiations with his Spanish Colleague, on all other claims.

With a view therefore to the speedy recognition of the Spanish Zone by the American Government, upon the settlement of the awards hereby ratified, the American Diplomatic Agent and Consul-General suggests, if his Spanish Colleague is unable to accept his point of view, that the claims for robbery and theft above referred to, namely:—

Thamy Slawee { Robbery of Cattle 11,222.00
Robbery of Mare 555.55
Robbery of Horse 277.75
Robbery of Mule 555.55
Mohamed Oknin { Robbery of Animals and goods near R’Gaia 4,188.25
Singer Company { For 14 Sewing Machines destroyed or stolen at the time of the rebellion of the Eastern Zone 6,412.50

be submitted for consideration and decision by the two Governments after the American recognition of the Spanish Zone has taken place.

All claims examined by the Interpreters, Don Manuel Cortés and [Page 356]Mr. Michael A. El-Khazen, represent on their final assessment an aggregate pecuniary value of Spanish Pesetas: 637,295.15 (assuming that the Spanish Administration elects to retain possession of the Kittany property).

If the proposition, above mentioned, is adopted, the sum of Spanish Pesetas: 23,211.60, would be deducted from the total sum, in respect of the claims above enumerated which are subjected to Don Antonio Pla’s reservation, leaving a balance of Spanish Pesetas: 614,083.55, to be deposited with the American Diplomatic Agency at Tangier, by the Hispano-Moroccan Government, in respect of the settlement of all other claims which have been unreservedly ratified by both the Spanish and by the American Representatives at Tangier.

Maxwell Blake

Summary of Claims

Dris Quettani. Spanish pesetas:
1. For the 16 years during which he was deprived of the usufruct of the farm 80,000.00
Value of Farm 320,000.00
Tahami Selaui.
2. Damages caused in the farm “El-Minzah,” 41,550
Pesetas Hassani, or
For robbery of cattle. Sum demanded: 30,175 Pesetas Hassani. Sum granted: 20,000 Pesetas Hassani or 11,222.00
For robbery of a mare. Sum demanded: 1,500 Pesetas Hassani. Sum granted: 1,000 Pesetas Hassan. Sum granted: 1,000 Pesetas Hassani, or 555.55
For robbery of a horse. Sum demanded: 500 Pesetas Hassani. Sum granted: 500 Pesetas Hassani, or 277.75
For robbery of a mule. Sum demanded: 1,000 Pesetas Hassani. Sum granted: 1,000 Pesetas 555.55
For destruction caused to the garden situated at Tarik El-Rad, Alcazar. Sum demanded: 22,500 Pesetas Hassani. Sum granted: 5,000 Pesetas 2,777.75
For the closing of a Fondack in Alcazar, at 400 Pesetas Hassani, during 9 months. Sum granted: 3,600 Pesetas Hassani, or 2,000.00
Hassan Raisuli.
3. For abduction of this Protégé by his cousin the bandit Raisuli. Sum approved by the American Government: $10,000. Sum granted including effects and money stolen: $6,500, which at the rate of 39,065.00
[Page 357] For impossibility, during eight years, to be able to enjoy the usufruct of his properties in the Spanish Zone, owing to fear of being recaptured. Sum demanded: 515,165 Pesetas Hassani. Sum granted: 60,000 Pesetas Hassani, or 33,333.35
For destruction in some of his properties as a result of the military occupation. Sum demanded: 308,820 Pesetas Hassani. Sum granted: 12,500 Pesetas Hassani, or 6,944.45
Singer Company.
4. For 14 sewing machines destroyed or stolen as a result of the revolt in the Eastern Zone 6,412,50
Simeon & Joseph Cohen of Larache.
5. Restitution of dues paid on a consignment of Gin 4,140.00
Rahamim Muyal.
6. For damages caused to a garden by the Larache-Alcazar Railroad 10,000.00
Restitution of the Gate Taxes 4,738.00
Do. “taxes on sugar, tea and coffee 17,035.50
Do. “ “ “candles and beer 5,992.75
Jacob Bentolila.
7. Restitution of the Consumption Tax on articles containing sugar and on alcohol 6,384.30
David Bergel.
8. For detention of Automobiles. Sum demanded: 110,000 Pesetas. Sum granted, in principle 50,255.75
9. For destruction of his properties at Tetuan. Sum demanded: 50,000 Pesetas Hassani. Sum granted: 15,000 Pesetas Hassani, or 8,333.35
For robbery committed near (opposite) Regaia. Sum demanded: 13,150 Pesetas Hassani. Sum granted: 7,500 Pesetas Hassani, or 4,188.25
Total Pesetas 637,295.15.
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.