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

No. 392

Sir: I have the honor to enclose herewith copy of a communication, dated May 15th, 1929,25 under cover of which I transmitted to Ambassador Hammond at Madrid, the text of my Telegram No. 10 of May 14th, 1929, 10 a.m. [p.m.?], to the Department, reporting the result of my recent interview with General Jordana, on the subject of the settlement of the American claims included in the “Joint Report” of July 12th, 1928, and to submit to the Department herewith a brief amplification of my telegraphic report above mentioned.

Since the signature of the “Joint Report,” I have kept myself in touch with my Spanish Colleague, on the subject, but General Jordana’s prolonged and serious illness, as the Department is aware, [Page 494]prevented any practical developments. However, Señor Pla’s successor, Don Bernardo Almeida, on the occasion of several of his recent journeys to Tetuan, torched upon the subject of the settlement of the American claims, with the Spanish High Commissioner, and he (Señor Almeida) informed me some time ago that General Jordana would much appreciate the opportunity to discuss the matter with me at a private and unofficial interview. Accordingly, I arranged to visit him in Tetuan, as stated in my cable No. 10 above mentioned, on the 13th instant.

The outset of our conversation, to my great disappointment, seemed to indicate reasons for considerable apprehension that ground had been lost, as regards the general approach of the Spaniards towards the question. My previous success in convincing the Spanish Authorities of the value of the mere act of official recognition by the American Government of Spain’s position and authority in Morocco, appeared to have been somewhat reversed, and since the High Commissioner had, only within the last month, brought to a conclusion, a settlement of all outstanding Dutch claims, against the surrender by the Netherlands Government of its extraterritorial rights in the Spanish Zone, he informed me that, without the promise of a similar relinquishment on the part of the American Government, he perceived no advantage in the sacrifices which the Spanish Zone Authorities were called upon to make for the settlement of American claims. It was at the cost of no little difficulty, that I was finally able to dislodge General Jordana from this position. These circumstances, however, impressed upon me the urgency of concluding a complete and definite agreement, immediately to be put into execution, if we were to avoid the danger of an indefinite delay in the settlement of our claims, the postponement of the normalization of our relations with the Authorities of the Spanish Zone, and the consequent prolongation of the present unsatisfactory absence of regular and official contact, with its ever present contingency of difficulties, friction, and accumulating claims, to the mutual detriment of the interests of both parties.

I then made a reference to the information which had been imparted to me by the Department’s Instruction No. 525 of April 11th, 1929, (File No.452.11/214),26 but, from General Jordana’s remarks, I understood the position to be that, while objections of a fundamental character had been taken against the Kittany claim, the other claims were admitted only in principle, and that the Spanish Government had conferred upon General Jordana full liberty to deal with the revision of all claims at his discretion. It was also abundantly evident to me that General Jordana was anxious to impress his own hand upon the work which had already been done, and especially, [Page 495]to make a show of his personal achievement, in the matter, for the satisfaction of his Government.

With the foregoing circumstances and psychological factors brought into play, it will be realized that I was confronted with an extremely difficult task in my endeavor to maintain intact the results of the “Joint Report.”

It would be futile to reach any conclusion which excluded a definite acceptable settlement of the most important of all the claims, namely, the Kittany claim, which was especially to be impugned, and therefore I firmly refused to accept any independent or deferred consideration of this claim, and would only discuss it as an item of the entire “Joint Report.”

I venture to believe that the outcome of my day’s negotiations with General Jordana will, in view of the above conditions, be deemed to be entirely satisfactory, and there will be no other necessity for me but to give some indication to the Department of the considerations which determined my decision to recommend the reductions of the original claims, as signalized in my cable No. 10 of May 14th, 1929, 10 a.m. [p.m.?]

In regard to Kittany’s land, even after good progress with respect to the acceptance of title, I finally found myself confronted with the prospect of a survey and revaluation of the property, which might have resulted, not only in a reduction of the capital amount of the claim, but would in any case have occasioned an indefinite delay involving, consequently, a jeopardy to other settlements. When, therefore, objections were advanced to the claim of 80,000 Pesetas for 16 years usufruct of the property, on the grounds that the Spanish Administration was firmly convinced that it had made a bona fide purchase of the property from the Sultan Mulay Haffid, that the extent and definition of the property claimed by Kittany was even yet undetermined, and that prior to the transaction between the Spanish Government and Moulay Haffid, Kittany’s possession and occupation of the property, except perhaps in a minor portion, could not be substantiated, I offered to delete this item, if such concession would secure acceptance of the capital claim.

The General also made objections to the abduction claims on behalf of El-Hassan Raisuli. In regard to the indemnity for abduction and captivity, he stated that the Spanish Government was prepared to dispute the contention that the bandit Raisuli was, at the time he molested his cousin, the American protegee, a functionary or collaborator of the Spanish Administration, but the General’s firmest opposition was to the item under this claim, covering an indemnity for the inability of El-Hassan Raisuli, to administer his lands after his release, on the grounds, as stated by the claimant, that he “feared” [Page 496]again to be kidnapped. General Jordana maintained—and not without apparent justification—that this motive for the claim was scarcely sustainable, and after discussion it was finally agreed to rule out 33,333.35 Pesetas, after obtaining a compensatory addition of 12,000 Pesetas to the claim of Pesetas 6,944.45 for military damage to Raisuli’s property, and incidentally maintaining the figure Pesetas 39,065.00 claimed in respect of compensation for the abduction and captivity of the American protegee by the bandit Raisuli.

Then again, I made no difficulty in acquiescing in the General’s request for the elimination of the claim connected with the closing of Thamy Slawee’s Fondack, at Alkasar Kebir, in consideration of the fact that the measure had been taken in the interests of sanitation, and that the American claimant was free to dispose of his property for any other purposes than that of a Fondack, for which its location rendered it unsuitable from a point of view of public hygiene.

I furthermore agreed to require Thamy Slawee to pay a sum of 930 Pesetas, his share of a contribution of a group of local proprietors, for municipal improvements of a character to enhance the value of their property.

The above modifications resulted in a definite mutual agreement on the claims in question. In making the concessions indicated, my decision was guided by a critical examination of the Spanish objections, and by considerations of their possible effect upon the mind of an eventual unbiassed arbitrator. I venture to hope that the Department will concur in my judgments and accept my recommendations in this connection.

The three claims upon which reservations were made by Señor Pla, were treated in accordance with the suggestion set forth in Section III of the Memorandum, dated August 15th, 1928, prepared by me, for Ambassador Hammond27 in pursuance of Department’s cable No. 11 of August 9th, 1928, 1 p.m.,28 as it was found to be impossible to have these claims settled at the present time.

Subsequent to the settlement of the other claims and to the recognition of the Spanish Zone by the American Government, negotiations on the subject of these reserved claims will be pursued between the American Diplomatic Agency at Tangier and the Spanish High Commissioner at Tetuan, and satisfactory settlements, it is hoped will be reached by direct agreement, or eventually with the assistance of an agreed arbitrator.

As indicated to the Department in my cable message No. 10 of May 14th, 1929, 10 a.m. [p.m.?], complete “ad referendum” agreement was reached between General Jordana and myself, with the [Page 497]above mentioned modifications, on the subject of the “Joint Report.” The General assured me that he was communicating the results of our interview forthwith to his Government and he assured me that an immediate settlement of the claims would be arranged. We were both of the opinion that for practical purposes, it would be preferable for the payments to be made, by him to me in Tetuan, as was provided in the “Joint Report,” rather than through Washington or at Madrid.

It was of course understood that, from the moment of the settlement of the claims, the pertinent consumption taxes would be made applicable to American nationals and ressortissants, on the request of the Spanish Government.

I venture to hope that the Department will approve my action in the above regard, based primarily on the urgency of the normalization of our relations with the Spanish Zone Authorities, the importance and reasons for which have been indicated above, and have been fully dealt with in previous despatches.

I trust therefore that it will be possible, upon my telegraphing notification of the actual settlement of the claims, for the Department to arrange the formalities of recognition of the Spanish Zone, within a minimum of delay, and that, as soon after recognition as possible, it will arrange for the appointment of a Consular Officer at Tetuan.

I am transmitting attached to this Despatch a recapitulation of the claims, as amended,29 in accordance with the foregoing indications. The “Joint Report” originally provided for the payment of an aggregate sum of Pesetas 637,295.15, which figures have been reduced by the following sums: Reserved claims, Pesetas 23,211.60; Kittany usufruct, Pesetas 80,000; Raisuli claims, Pesetas 21,333.35; Thamy Slawee, Pesetas 2,000, making a total reduction of Pesetas 126,544.95. The aggregate amount therefore to be paid immediately by the Spanish Government on the revised claims, will be Pesetas 510,750.20, as shown in Enclosure No. 2.

My object in telegraphing the Department on May 13 [14?], the substance of the agreement was for the purpose of enabling the Department to deal with any approaches, on the subject, which might have been made from the Spanish Government, before the present despatch could reach Washington. If however, at the date of the receipt of this report by the Department no action has been taken looking to the execution of the agreement, either with the Embassy in Madrid, or through the Spanish Ambassador in Washington, then I most respectfully suggest that the Department bring unceasing pressure [Page 498]to bear upon the Madrid Government until the engagements taken by General Jordana have been fulfilled.

In pursuance of the Department’s previous instructions in the matter a copy of this despatch is being forwarded to-day to the American Ambassador in Madrid.

I have [etc.]

Maxwell Blake
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  3. Foreign Relations, 1928, vol. iii, p. 359.
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