352.115/5: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Third Secretary of Embassy in Spain (Wendelin)

69. Your X–23, August 1, 6 p.m. Department is concerned with reports of actual or possible interference with American property in Spain.

Press reports under Madrid date line of August 2 state that the Ministry of Industry and Commerce have revealed that “All Ministry of Industry and Commerce provisional measures probably will become permanent because a new State must be created in accordance with the circumstances through which the Republic is passing” and that “the seizure of abandoned factories is permanent and no appeal will be admissible”.

Advices from Consul at Barcelona reported in your X–18 of July 31, 8 p.m.,77 indicate that plants belonging to Ford and General Motors have been taken over and are being operated.

A telegram of August 1 from Consul at Bilbao77 indicates that American property in that vicinity may be in possible danger of seizure by armed Syndicalists who on many occasions have taken private automobiles and other property (not American) with impunity.

This Government cannot admit that private property, whether in the hands of American nationals or abandoned by them temporarily [Page 658] because of conditions over which they have no control, may be interfered with with impunity or denied the protection to which it is entitled under international law. This Government must, of course, look to the Government of Spain for the protection of such property and for indemnification for any delinquency in this respect.

In the event of requisition for the necessities of war or otherwise of American property this Government must insist that provision be made for prompt and full compensation to the owners.

You should make this Government’s position entirely clear to the Spanish Government and keep the Department fully informed of any requisitions, confiscations or interferences with private property that have already taken place or that may later take place, whether by the Government, by those opposing it, or otherwise.

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