The Diplomatic Agent and Consul General at Tangier (Blake) to the Secretary of State
[Received July 30.]
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.]