681.003/135: Telegram

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

1. Your cable number 1, January 19, 2 p.m. Recent conversations with Spanish Foreign Office started from position reached in Spanish note of January 22, 193013 referred to in Department’s number 75, August 6, 1930 to Madrid Embassy.14

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This note agreed to execute Blake-Jordana agreement15 but subjected payment of certain claims to relinquishment of capitulations and required Kittany claim to be deferred to decision of local Spanish courts before becoming subject to diplomatic discussion.

Political recognition of Spanish Zone and establishment of normal official contact with Spanish authorities would greatly facilitate straightening out entire position and application of my tentative formula while assuring this would not involve concessions on any essential principles or the surrender of equitable rights embodied in any claims.

My proposal is to accord recognition of Spanish Protectorate after payment of claims agreed to in Spanish note above referred to and subject to an agreement by Spanish Government to confide adjustment of Kittany claim to myself and Spanish High Commissioner.

Have my position Kittany claim unaltered. However, I saw in the Embassy files Madrid an aide-mémoire 16 left by Laughlin17 with the Spanish Foreign Office agreeing to submit Kittany claim to a court whose competency American Government could legally admit. Since the Spanish insist upon their own courts this proposition leads to an impasse or in reality imposes an administrative or diplomatic adjustment of the claim. My object is to secure settlement of the claim in agreement with Spanish High Commissioner failing which agreement with him for its arbitration.

After recognition on above conditions discussion concerning assent to legislation and taxation in Spanish Zone would be pursued with Spanish High Commissioner under same procedure and safeguards as followed by this Legation with the French Protectorate and in all cases where American traders are found to have suffered material prejudice to their business by the levy on them of unauthorized taxation since the joint report, the refund thereof would be insisted upon, insistence would obviously be made upon elimination of discriminatory features of legislation and the position of the American Government fully reserved in connection with subsequent recurrence of illegal levies.

Fully appreciate importance Department’s observations number (5) but am frankly unable to perceive in my proposal any compromise or commitments legal or moral prejudicial to our present treaty position or departing from policy we followed with the French Zone. Commercial guarantees we may legitimately exact in the Spanish Zone to substantiate our present treaties would probably make possibility [Page 1007] of any agreement regarding the surrender of the capitulations a very remote contingency and in no case would subject be given consideration before the same subject had been resolved with respect to the French Zone.

Numbers (4) and (5) are to be utilized only according to the exigencies of the negotiations.

  1. Foreign Relations, 1930, vol. iii, p. 608.
  2. Ibid., p. 617.
  3. May 13, 1929; see despatch No. 392, May 17, 1929, from the Diplomatic agent and Consul General at Tangier, Foreign Relations, 1929, vol. iii, p. 493.
  4. Aide-mémoire of January 20, 1931; for text, see ibid., 1931, vol. ii, p. 751.
  5. Irwin B. Laugblin, Ambassador to Spain, 1929–33.