The Ambassador in Spain (Bowers) to the Secretary of State25a
[Received January 25.]
Sir: With reference to my despatch No. 939 of November 2,26 I have the honor to enclose a copy and a translation of a memorandum from the Foreign Office, dated December 30 last, regarding the payment of certain American claims in the Spanish Zone of Morocco, and the recognition of that Zone by the United States Government.[Page 423]
I regret to say that in this memorandum the Spanish Government makes it evident that the opinions expressed in the last paragraph of a note from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to this Embassy of January 22, 1930—a translation of which was enclosed in despatch No. 49 of February 27, 193027—still holds good. In other words, the Spanish Government makes the payment of the claims contingent upon not only recognition of the Spanish Zone but upon an agreement to abolish our capitulatory rights in the Zone.
The Spanish point of view was pointed out in my despatch No. 638 of January 10, 1935,28 but since that time the Embassy has made a vigorous and sustained effort to secure the payment of our claims in return for recognition of the Zone alone. The matter has been discussed at the Foreign Office many times and the Embassy has been led to believe that the Foreign Office favored a settlement and would do all that it could to forward it. I am inclined now to believe, however, that there is a difference of opinion in the Foreign Office itself and that the Moroccan Bureau and officials of the High Commission in Morocco remain intransigent.
Upon the receipt of the memorandum I pointed out orally at the Foreign Office that the injection of the question of the capitulations into the present discussions was more likely to retard than advance the Spanish desire for the abolition of capitulatory rights. I said that the payment for the claims in question had been agreed upon, if only informally, by Spanish and American representatives, and that there was no fairness or logic in making their payment contingent upon the settlement of a totally different question.
I am inclined to believe that further negotiation at the present time for the payment of our claims would be useless, but in the event that the Department desires a reply to the memorandum to be made I request instructions as to what should be said.
It is now obvious that the withholding of recognition of the Spanish Zone is a useless weapon to bring about payment of our claims. I believe, therefore, that the Department should consider, from a purely selfish point of view, whether recognition of the Zone should not be accorded some time in the near future. Such recognition would enable our Diplomatic Agent at Tangier to deal directly with the Spanish High Commissioner to the Zone regarding the many questions there at issue, a thing which he is now unable to do. At present Mr. Blake is sometimes obliged to request the Department to instruct this Embassy to take up some matter with the Spanish Foreign Office. The Foreign Office then takes it up with the Moroccan Bureau, the Bureau with the High Commissioner, and much time has elapsed [Page 424]before Tangier receives any answer, which is returned by the same tortuous route. It therefore seems obvious that efficient prompt handling of Moroccan questions would be forwarded by recognition which would permit our Diplomatic Agent to go directly to the High Commissioner. Mr. Blake’s opinion should obviously be obtained on this point.
Some time in the future the Department may also wish to consider the question of the abolition of our capitulatory rights in Morocco. Mr. Culbertson,29 during his recent visit to Madrid, was informed of the Embassy’s point of view in this regard. There is some justice in the observations made in the enclosed memorandum regarding the changed conditions in Morocco and the consequent lack of reason to maintain capitulatory rights. On the other hand, Mr. Blake has advanced various reasons for the maintenance of such rights and possibly to these may be added the present intransigence of the Spanish Government in settlement of our claims. Nevertheless, it may be possible at some future time to negotiate an agreement which may adequately protect our commercial position in Morocco and secure the payment of our claims through the surrender of the capitulations. Such rights have been surrendered by all countries with the exception of England and the United States, and while there are many Englishmen doing business in Morocco, I understand from Mr. Blake there are but two or three Americans there. Since our commercial position in the Zone depends rather on the Act of Algeciras30 and the Moroccan treaties than on the capitulations, and as the principal effect of the latter is the giving of a special position to a few American protégés, it would seem that if and when our interests are protected by an agreement, which perhaps could be easily negotiated, we might well surrender our capitulatory rights. This is obviously a question, however, upon which a better opinion can be given by our Diplomatic Agency in Tangier than by this Embassy.
- Copy sent by the Ambassador to the Diplomatic Agent and Consul General at Tangier.↩
- Foreign Relations, 1935, vol. i, p. 1017.↩
- Foreign Relations, 1930, vol. iii, p. 607.↩
- Ibid., 1935, vol. i, p. 999.↩
- Paul Trauger Culbertson, Assistant Chief, Division of Western European Affairs.↩
- General Act of the International Conference of Algeciras, signed April 7, 1906, Foreign Relations, 1906, pt. 2, p. 1495.↩
- Foreign Relations, 1930, vol. iii, p. 608.↩