852.75 National Telephone Co./265: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France ( Bullitt )

383. For Ambassador Weddell: Continued refusal of the Spanish authorities to permit Colonel Behn to enter the country cannot fail to give rise to the suspicion that the Spanish Government’s attitude toward the International Telephone and Telegraph Company, toward its huge investments in Spain, and toward its contractual rights lacks frankness. The desire of Colonel Behn to protect the American rights and interests involved, to establish personal dealings with the Spanish authorities, and to negotiate claims and counterclaims rising out of the civil strife is entirely legitimate and merits our full support. When Colonel Behn first applied for permission in March, the intimation was given to him that his application would not be acted on favorably prior to recognition of the Nationalist Government by the United States. But after recognition when the American Chargé d’Affaires took up the matter with the Under Secretary of State, the latter advanced a series of reasons in justification for continued refusal which frankly we have found unconvincing. (See Matthews’ telegrams 47 and 55.)5a

The present attitude of the Spanish Government is the less understandable in that it has adopted an intransigent attitude toward a large American interest at the very moment when it is asking the Government of the United States to extend it favors in the form of credits for purchases of needed raw materials.

[Page 831]

I feel that you should make it abundantly clear that this Government intends to uphold the legal rights of American business interests in Spain with as much emphasis as in the past. More immediately, this Government considers that the refusal to admit Colonel Behn is inconsistent with international practice and equity if for no other reason than that it deprives him of the opportunity to deal with the appropriate Spanish officials with regard to the interests he represents.

We are informing Cardenas in this sense and trust that you will take the first appropriate opportunity after you have presented your letters to set forth the position of the United States on these points.

  1. Ante, pp. 820 and 824.