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

No. 1215

Sir: In accordance with my telegraphic despatch No. 26 of April 30, 4 P.M., 1929,24 in regard to the possibility of the denouncement of the existing modus vivendi between Spain and the United States, I have the honor to transmit herewith the Spanish text with English translation thereof of a note which I have just received from General Primo de Rivera having to do with Spanish grievances and pointing out unless they are redressed public opinion may make a denouncement of the modus vivendi necessary.

[Page 790]

I am forwarding the above referred to note in haste by today’s pouch and shall discuss it at further length in a subsequent despatch when I receive the Department’s reply to my telegram above referred to.

I have [etc.]

Ogden H. Hammond

The President of the Spanish Council of Ministers (Estella) to the American Ambassador (Hammond)

No. 83

Excellency: The preoccupation which for some time has been felt by the Government of His Majesty with regard to the state of commercial relations between Spain and the United States is a fact which undoubtedly has not escaped Your Excellency. The obstacles to Spanish export trade arising from provisions, some of a customs nature and others which, without being specified, have restricted our imports into the United States, have been repeatedly pointed out to the Washington Government by His Majesty’s Ambassador without, unfortunately, the action of Senor Padilla having produced the results that might legitimately have been expected; and, at one time grapes, at others garlic, onions, almonds, dried fruits, canned peppers, revolvers and recently cork products have been subjected to treatment other than that which in the opinion of His Majesty’s Government they deserve.

It is not necessary to recall at this time the antecedents and circumstances of the legal status of customs relations between the two countries. The most-favored-nation regime is the basis thereof, and the fact of the embargo formerly existing in North America against the importation of Argentine grapes having been raised, without similar treatment being accorded to grapes of Spanish origin notwithstanding reasons of an alleged sanitary nature therefor, shows that the favorable attitude which the Spanish authorities have always shown does not meet with equitable requital on the other side of the Atlantic.

The situation indicated would be, therefore, considerably aggravated should information coming from the United States be confirmed concerning the proposed customs tariff revision, a matter of great importance and one directed toward the increase of duties in classifications which principally interest Spain—a purpose which, should it be confirmed, would increase the notable difference of the trade balance in the exchange of products between the two countries which, in 1927, was 254 million pesetas, gold, in favor of the United States.

The export value of Spanish products to North America in the matter of cork manufactures shows an extraordinary difference as compared with other products, being 84,600,000 pesetas; followed by almonds, 16,000,000; olives, 15,500,000; olive oil in large containers, [Page 791] 12,000,000; chamois skins, 10,600,000; sheet cork, 10,400,000; besides copper ore, goat skins, mercury, rags, onions, filberts, peppers, olive oil in small containers, and canned vegetables and fish in smaller quantities although they exceed a million pesetas in value.

Your Excellency will understand the great importance that the Government of His Majesty must ascribe to an increase of duties and the application of hindrances (I refer to the impost on cork stoppers) to an article which is of such signal importance in the list of Spanish exports to the United States, namely cork manufactures—a product genuinely Spanish, the manufacture of which in Spain has so legitimate a right to protection. The interest felt in the United States in the moving picture industry which, according to the recent note of Your Excellency,26 the Washington Government considers for the sole reason of its important development and progress in the country, should be regarded with consideration by other nations, cannot fundamentally be compared with the cork industry derived as it is from a national product of Spain.

The desire of His Majesty’s Government is ever to follow, unswervingly, in its relations with the United States, the policy of cordial friendship and approximation between the two nations. No action whatsoever taken by the Government over which I preside could be considered as a contradiction to this purpose. We want to continue in that purpose, but precisely for that reason I must recommend to Your Excellency that the attention of your Government be called to the problem as stated; since, in view of a trade balance so unfavorable for Spain, as I have just pointed out, and aggravated by the series of restrictive measures and impediments to which I have also alluded, it would be so difficult for His Majesty’s Government to fail to take into consideration the importunities it is receiving not only from specially interested quarters but from Spanish public opinion in general, that it would find itself obliged to proceed to the denouncement of the existing modus vivendi.

I avail myself [etc.]

Marqués de Estella
  1. Not printed.
  2. See telegram No. 86, March 28, 1929, to the Chargé in France, last paragraph, vol. ii, p. 1006.