852.75 National Telephone Co./280: Telegram
The Ambassador in Spain ( Weddell ) to the Secretary of State
[Received July 21—10:20 a.m.]
129. Scotten11 saw Barcenas Monday and again today and discussed at length the question of Behn’s return to Spain as well as the release of the American prisoners. During the first conversation Barcenas although personally friendly was cool and noncommittal regarding both questions. When Scotten asked him what had happened to the Ambassador’s request for a list of the prisoners he replied that the military did not want to furnish one. Barcenas stated he had spoken to the Minister of the Interior the previous week regarding Behn and had been told not to meddle with such matters. Scotten thereupon said he wondered whether the Spanish Government was fully cognizant of the great importance which our Government attached to the return of Colonel Behn to Spain. He explained to Barcenas the tenor of the conversation between Mr. Welles and Cardenas as outlined in the Department’s 46, July 1, 3 p.m. and inquired whether Cardenas had not fully informed his Government regarding the conversation. Barcenas replied that Cardenas had merely telegraphed the general hope of our Government that American interests here [Page 839] would be fully protected! He added that perhaps Cardenas had been afraid to report this conversation fully! Scotten thereupon stressed the fact that the connection between the permission for Behn to return to Spain and the granting of the cotton credits had become increasingly close and added that although not speaking officially he felt that should permission be granted for Behn to return to Spain it could not help but facilitate the granting of the cotton credits.
Today Barcenas opened the conversation by stating “I think I can say that if you can arrange for the cotton credits, the Generalissimo will not only agree for Behn to return but will authorize the release of your prisoners.” Scotten inquired whether he could take this as an official statement to which Barcenas replied: “No, but that is my personal impression. I think however that it would be useful for your Ambassador to see General Jordana next week and I will telephone you on Monday regarding the time. I hope that you will meet us halfway regarding these matters so that we can settle them all at once.”
Scotten received the impression that, although Barcenas claimed to be speaking unofficially, he had nevertheless discussed these matters with Jordana and that the latter may very possibly make a definite proposal to me along these lines when I see him next week.
While I can readily understand and share the general reluctance of the Department to enter into a bargain to obtain what we regard as our indubitable right, nevertheless, from the tenor of the Department’s 46 July 1, 3 p.m. the question of the cotton credits and Colonel Behn’s return to Spain appear to be linked together. If this be true and if the Department will authorize me to accept the proposition mentioned unofficially to Scotten by Barcenas in case Jordana does broach it officially and gives definite assurances it will be carried out I feel we have an opportunity to settle at least two of our outstanding questions with the Spanish Government.
I would appreciate the Department’s instructions by Monday if possible as I may be asked to proceed to Burgos on Tuesday.
- Robert M. Scotten, Counselor of Embassy in Spain.↩