852.2221/1590: Telegram

The Chargé in Spain (Matthews) to the Secretary of State

20. My telegram No. 19, April 20, 11 a.m.

1. The Cuban Consul has received authorization to accept responsibility for the five Cuban prisoners. That fact I communicated to Marquis de Rialp last evening. He then indicated that it might be impossible to arrange transportation, et cetera, immediately.

I telephoned him again this morning. He then frankly told me of the position taken by the British and the Italians as reported in numbered paragraph 3 of my telegram No. 19. He stated that in view of British insistence and the fact that it was the British who actually took off the Italian prisoners and in view of the further fact that the exchange agreed upon was strictly on a man-for-man basis the number of prisoners of other nationalities must accordingly be reduced. He said that therefore the number of Americans who will be permitted to leave is 71 instead of 81. He asked me especially to explain to the Department that while he personally believed, also, foreign prisoners would be released in the relatively near future he could get no guarantee with respect to the remaining 11 Americans. He stated furthermore that this completed his part in the arrangements for the exchange of prisoners.

Feeling that rather than delay further indefinitely the departure of the 71 prisoners and seeing that further demands for the release of the entire 81 would produce such delay, I insisted that the 71 in question be released immediately and he has promised definitely that they will be taken to the frontier at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning.85 I declined [Page 810] of course to give any indication as to which 71 should be selected for release.

I shall take up the question of the remaining 10 with the authorities at Burgos next week.

  1. In his telegram No. 22, April 22, 3 p.m., the Chargé reported that the 71 Americans had been released and sent across the French border (852.2221/1592).