852.75 National Telephone Co./309: Telegram

The Ambassador in Spain (Weddell) to the Secretary of State

3. I presented the note proposed in my 259, December 22,57 to the Minister for Foreign Affairs58 on December 30 and this morning received from him a reply the text of which follows:

“Excellency: With respect to our last interview in which you presented to me the note dated December 29 which expresses the desire of your Government that American interests in Spain and especially those affecting the National Telephone Company shall enjoy the former status quo I take pleasure in informing you that there exists no danger to the legitimate enjoyment of the situation.

As regards the situation of the American personnel in Spain this depends upon the general purging of the Company’s personnel who were active under Red regime.

If any measure of this kind affects the said personnel this does not constitute any departure from the position and functions which foreigners have had and may continue to have within the law.

Of the measures of the Company of other kinds which do not involve Government, action should be taken up directly with the Company, any conflict or disagreement which American enterprise may have with the National Telephone Company or with other companies because of nonfulfillment of contracts or injury to legitimate interests should be settled between them, and, if necessary, before the courts of justice.

Only in the abnormal case of a denial of justice or nonfulfillment of a judicial sentence should the matter be taken up through diplomatic [Page 856] channels with the Spanish Government which is always ready to guarantee legitimate American interests as has been openly declared.

I avail myself of this opportunity to extend to Your Excellency the assurances of my high consideration.”

The Minister’s remarks upon handing me this note were vague and irrelevant to the subject at issue and added nothing to contents of the note itself.

In the absence of Behn59 I have shown this note to Caldwell60 but have not furnished him with a copy. I venture to suggest the Department give Frank Page61 a copy for communication to Colonel Behn as the latter may consider that the first paragraph will give the company opportunity to take direct action through the board without further representations on any part for the moment. Such action on the part of the company can alone determine the sincerity of the Government’s expressions as contained in the first paragraph.

I do not feel we have any technical basis for objecting to paragraphs 2 or 3, irritating as they may be to the telephone company.

The meaning of paragraph 4 is not clear and in any case it appears to be beyond the point.

Paragraph[s] 5 and 6 appear to be irrelevant as both in my opinion and that of Caldwell no conflict or disagreement exists between the International Telephone and Telegraph Company and the local company.

The note as a whole is unsatisfactory in that it ignores the opposition which Behn has experienced in his efforts to settle this question directly with the Minister of the Interior and other Spanish officials. This casts some doubt upon the sincerity of the expressions in the first paragraph.

  1. Ibid., p. 853.
  2. Juan Beigbeder.
  3. Sosthenes Behn, president of the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation.
  4. Fred Caldwell, Madrid manager of the National Telephone Company.
  5. Vice president of the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation.