852.00/2396: Telegram

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

X–30. Meeting of Diplomatic Corps this afternoon largely devoted to discussion safety of diplomatic missions and interpretation of right of asylum. Because of rumor that armed militia may attempt to invade missions to search for Spanish Monarchists and Fascists, Chilean Ambassador addressed note to Minister of State, August 3, stressing the serious consequence of any such attempt and requesting that the Government take whatever measures may be necessary to prevent their realization. No reply yet received.80

In general discussion of right of asylum, Danish Minister, Portuguese Chargé d’Affaires, and Chilean Ambassador, in particular, maintained broadest possible interpretation, insisting that diplomatic missions could give asylum to anyone not a fugitive from justice without advising Spanish Government. Thus far, I have admitted no one into this Embassy not an American citizen or national. … British Government has now instructed Embassy that “safety of British subjects must be your first consideration and you must refuse admission to any Spaniards whose presence is likely to increase danger”.

Referring to Department’s telegram No. 56 of July 29, 5 p.m.,81 Cuban Chargé d’Affaires and other Latin-American diplomats have now approached me regarding possible refuge here in case of emergency for themselves and their families. In strict confidence their attitude appears to me extraordinary in view of the fact that their nationals are under their own protection in their missions and have not requested admission to this Embassy. Cuban Chargé d’Affaires, in fact, assured me several days ago that he has ample space in his [Page 660] Embassy for Cubans and offered facilities there for Americans. Request instructions amplifying section 7–6 Instructions to Diplomatic Officers with reference to above contingency, and also possibility we may be besieged with requests for admission from nationals of other countries in event of serious crisis.

Total American nationals in Embassy, 86; outside Embassy in Madrid approximately 130; thus far evacuated 114. This includes 16 of Puerto Rico and 13 of Philippines in Embassy and approximately 29 of Puerto Rico and 19 of Philippines outside. We have adequate housing facilities for 130 people and we can improvise sleeping facilities for balance of American nationals in Madrid who would come here in case of emergency. We have balanced rations on hand for 100 persons for 15 days and will increase this immediately to 3 weeks. If, however, nationals of other countries were admitted we could provide no sleeping facilities and food supply would be correspondingly shortened.

  1. The reply, dated August 4, not printed; it reiterated the Spanish Government’s previous assurances of protection for the lives and property of foreign missions (852.00/2725).
  2. See footnote 70, p. 649.