The Chargé at Tangier (Doolittle) to the Secretary of State

No. 875

Sir: In further reference to my No. 874 of August 21, 1933,20 and anterior despatches on the above subject, I have the honor to inform the Department that all shipments of flour which had reached Tetuan and Larache prior to July 31, 1933, have now been released.

I enclose copy in the Spanish text and in English translation (Enclosures Nos. 1 and 2)20 of a Notice issued by the Director of Customs at Larache, under date of August 14, 1933, in this connection, which purports to prohibit the entry or even debarkation of flour or semolina at the port of Larache, after July 31, 1933.

Although this prohibition would apply to a shipment of 500 bags of flour belonging to the American protégé, Jacob S. Cohen, which reached the port of Larache on August 4, 1933, Mr. Cohen has been given to understand that his goods will, exceptionally, be allowed clearance, if he applies to the Spanish High Commissioner at Tetuan for authorization to this effect.

It is not improbable, therefore, that the Spanish Government may complacently contend that the representations made by the American Embassy in Madrid21 should be deemed to be satisfactorily disposed of by the fact that the shipments of flour of American ressortissants hitherto held up have now been entirely released.

There remain, however, the still more important question of the illegality of their interference with the liberty of the flour trade, the demand that these illicit restrictions should be immediately removed, [Page 982] and the question of the liability of the Spanish authorities for material prejudice caused to American interests by this violation of the treaties.

In this connection, particular pressure should be made for a refund of the exorbitant sanitary inspection dues, which have been illegally levied on the shipments just released, and a formal objection made in regard to such levy on further consignments of flour and semolina.

Amongst others, a claim will, in all probability, justifiably arise from the deterioration of stocks held by American ressortissants in Tangier expressly imported for their trade in the Spanish Zone, which has been abruptly and illegally suspended by the refusal of the Spanish authorities to allow the importation of flour and semolina into the Spanish Zone from Tangier.

There is no doubt whatever that the pretended phytopathological régime is a mere pretext to favor Spanish interests and certain private concerns established in the Spanish Zone.

I am informed on good authority that the measures have been taken to promote and protect in particular the milling interest of the “Compañía Agrícola del Lucus,” which operates a flour mill located in the vicinity of Larache, run by a Spanish director who is the intimate friend of the private secretary of the High Commissioner at Tetuan. The mill in question had considerable stocks of deteriorating flour which they were unable to sell in competition with imported flour, and the phytopathological regulations, including the imposition of a sanitary inspection fee of 60 pesetas a ton on imported flour, are intended to weight the die in favor of the mill in question.

This information derives incidental confirmation from the fact that an American protégé having obtained from the Customs director at Larache permission to clear 500 sacks of flour (out of the 4,000 he had lying at the Larache Customs), was refused a sanitary certificate for that quantity by the phytopathological inspector, on the ground that the Lucus mills had still a quantity of unsold stock, and it was only with difficulty that the American protégé succeeded in obtaining from the inspector, a certificate for a reduced quantity of 250 sacks.

It will be recalled from my previous despatches, that the Spanish authorities grounded their action on reprisals against the attitude of the French Protectorate. There is, therefore, somewhat of a pungent flavor in the fact that the privileged flour mill in question, though run by a Spanish director, is the property of a French concern.

These details are of secondary importance but they may nevertheless be of interest as showing the incredibly irresponsible spirit in which the Spanish authorities in Morocco are tampering with trade liberties, secured by treaty provisions which they are obliged to respect.

[Page 983]

Finally, I append copy in the Spanish text and in English translation (Enclosures Nos. 3 and 4)23 of a Notice issued by the “Círculo Mercantil” of Larache, an institution having the recognized standing of an official Chamber of Commerce, from which it is apparent that the intention of the Spanish authorities is to discriminate between foreign and Spanish agricultural produce imported through the port of Larache, for the needs of the population of the western districts of the Spanish Zone. While foreign agricultural products and their derivatives are to be refused entrance through the Port of Larache, similar Spanish products are exclusively to enjoy the privilege of entry at Larache when accompanied by phytopathological certificates issued at the port of shipment.

I await with great interest the Department’s comments on the above situation, and indication of the action which it may deem proper to take in this connection.

Respectfully yours,

H. A. Doolittle
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Representations were not made at Madrid until after receipt of the Department’s instructions; see infra.
  4. Not printed.