The Consul General at Barcelona ( Perkins ) to the Secretary of State

No. 199

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch No. 194 of January 19, 1937,27 and to the Department’s Radio Bulletin No. 13 of January 18 [19], 1937, in which appears the following report:

“Ambulance Unit. An American ambulance corps sailed on the French Liner Paris today en route for service with the Spanish Government. It was reported to consist of 16 men and women 4 ambulances and $30,000 worth of medical supplies and equipment for a 50 bed hospital.”

If the American citizens concerned are, as stated, actually proceeding “for service with the Spanish Government”, I cannot see that the humanitarian nature of the service would render them immune from any penalties to which they might be liable under the provisions of the statutes mentioned in the Department’s January 13, 7 p.m., or that their conduct would be any the less inconsistent with the American Government’s policy of the most scrupulous non-intervention in Spanish internal affairs. Should it be felt, however, that such Americans are entitled to any more considerate treatment by this office than Americans bearing arms in the service of the Spanish Government, I should much appreciate receiving an expression of the Department’s attitude toward a matter which may possibly become a somewhat perplexing practical question.

With regard to this general subject, I may say that this office has already forwarded a few letters to two or three individual Americans in the service of the Spanish Government. With the arrival of a considerable number of American volunteers in Spain, it is possible that the extension of such a courtesy might develop into the transmission of a considerable volume of mail matter. I am inclined to the view that the forwarding of mail to American volunteers in Spain would, in effect, be a form of support to activities which the American Government discountenances and would tend to stultify its policy of complete non-intervention. Unless we are prepared to maintain a consistent attitude of disapproval toward those who defy the injunctions of the American Government to abstain from interference with the internal affairs of this country, we shall to that extent impair the attainment of our objective which, as I see it, is to minimize the possibility of incidents calculated to embroil us in the civil dissensions of Spain.

Respectfully yours,

Mahlon F. Perkins
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