881.822/203: Telegram

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

357. Reference telegrams dated July 3 from Legation at Tangier concerning Spanish action in regard to Cape Spartel Lighthouse. You should seek an immediate appointment with the Foreign Minister and, unless you perceive some compelling objection, deliver to him the following note:

“My Government has learned with surprise that the Spanish High Commissioner in Morocco, presumably acting under instructions of the Spanish Government, has issued orders for taking over the direction and administration of the lighthouse at Cape Spartel as of July 5, 1941, and for maintenance of the lighthouse thereafter by the technical services of the Spanish Zone in Morocco. The action in question, taken on a scant 3 days notice, dismissed in a most summary manner the fact that the lighthouse is actually administered by an International Commission under the terms or the Cape Spartel Lighthouse Convention of May 31, 1865, to which the Government of the United States, as well as the Spanish Government, is a party.

My Government declines to admit the right of the Spanish Government unilaterally to terminate an international agreement, in accordance with the provisions of which the Spanish Government specifically engaged itself to cooperate with the representatives of other nations in the care and management of a service designed to protect an important world shipping route. The abrupt decision of the Spanish authorities, by which they have taken upon themselves the sole responsibility for terminating this international engagement of long standing, was made without prior consultation with those governments whose rights are affected and without regard for the terms and conditions of an existing treaty.

The Government of the United States is informed that the President of the International Commission has already protested the action of the Spanish High Commissioner in Morocco and has expressed the most formal reservation of the rights and responsibilities of the governments represented on the Commission and of the Commission itself. The American Chargé d’Affaires at Tangier has likewise delivered a strong written protest to the Spanish District Commissioner in that city. I am now instructed by my Government to associate myself with those protests and to urge upon the Spanish Government the importance and desirability, in the interest of international relations, of the prompt annulment of the order of the Spanish High Commissioner and the resumption of administration of the Cape Spartel Lighthouse by the International Commission exclusively authorized to perform that function under a valid subsisting international agreement which the United States and Spain and all other signatories have a clear obligation to respect.”

Please repeat to Tangier.