740.00112 European War 1939/5355

The Chargé at Tangier (Childs) to the Secretary of State

No. 728

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my telegram No. 153 of April 11, 11 pm.27 concerning the conclusion of an economic accord relating to Spanish North Africa and Tangier and to transmit herewith a copy of the memorandum which I left with General Orgaz, Spanish High Commissioner, on April 11 in furtherance of the instructions contained in the Acting Secretary’s letter to me of March 28, 1942.

It had been my original intention to discuss the matter of an economic accord with General Orgaz in the intimacy of the Legation to which he had agreed to come for the purpose of lunching or dining with me. However, it was ascertained upon the receipt of Mr. Welles’ letter of March 28, on April 7, that General Orgaz was leaving for Madrid the following week and would be unable to accept my invitation until his return. In view of his projected absence for two weeks, it was considered desirable to discuss the matter with him before his departure and I accordingly arranged to be received by him on April 11 accompanied by Miss Sophia P. Kearney of the Legation staff, who speaks fluent Spanish.

On being received by General Orgaz in the presence of the Chief of the Diplomatic Cabinet, I presented him the enclosed memorandum in Spanish. It will be observed that I have employed the term “Spanish North Africa” in that memorandum in preference to “Spanish Morocco” in order to make the area inclusive of the Spanish [Page 458] metropolitan areas in North Africa, including Ceuta and Melilla. I considered it preferable to allow General Orgaz to read the memorandum without first discussing the points one by one as I considered he might desire to come to a decision without the contents of the memorandum in all their details becoming known first to anyone.

General Orgaz read the memorandum through twice and then stated—“This is really a step forward”. He observed that he realized the military needs of the United States and that consequently, in order to facilitate the negotations, he would not insist upon obtaining any products which could be classified as military or as having a military character. He added that he would limit his requests strictly to foodstuffs, including particularly wheat, sugar, barley, etc. I inquired if he meant to exclude gasoline and to my surprise he remarked that he was inclined to consider gasoline as a product having a military character and therefore would not necessarily insist upon having it. I do not know whether this reserve by him is attributable to a feeling on his part that other arrangements might be made for obtaining gasoline outside the accord, or whether he wishes to avoid the receipt of products from us which possess any strategic character which might thus all the most [more?] justify a demand by us for the presence of officers to check upon the movement of such shipments.

General Orgaz remarked that as between wheat and flour, he would prefer wheat in as much as this would give work to the mills in the Zone which are at present inactive. I remarked that we had plenty of wheat to which General Orgaz answered—“We have very little here”.

The Spanish High Commissioner then remarked that he considered the memorandum offered a very good basis for negotiation. He stated he would study it and would give me a written reply before leaving for Madrid on April 15, where he was proceeding on purely military matters.

In order to enlighten him concerning the character of the officers we had in mind, mentioned in numbered paragraph four of the memorandum, I stated that what we had in mind were Vice Consuls. General Orgaz stated that this was a point to which he could make no answer at the moment as “he could offer no better control than his own guarantee”.

I remarked that he could count on my entire cooperation in the effort to achieve an agreement. He stated that he appreciated the efforts I had made and was making, that he was very grateful for those efforts and that he was saying this heartily and sincerely. He added—

“Every effort will be made on my part also. If an agreement is reached, it will be a very good thing; if not, we shall lose weight. Personally speaking it would mean a great deal of good for me (General [Page 459] Orgaz is a stout person) but I do not know what would become, in that case, of Señor Temes (indicating his Chief of Diplomatic Cabinet who is cadaverous and thin)”.

The Spanish High Commissioner said that he would like to bring to my attention the matter of transportation and that, as I was well aware, the Spanish were suffering acutely from lack of tonnage.

I then remarked that I had felt it desirable to make the memorandum as inclusive as possible and had therefore introduced certain matters without any instructions from my Government. General Orgaz replied that he fully understood this and that he was also speaking without the knowledge of his government to which he owes an account of his actions. He added with emphasis, however, that he felt certain that any recommendations he might have to make concerning an economic accord would be ratified by his government without question.

Respectfully yours,

J. Rives Childs

The American Chargé at Tangier (Childs) to the Spanish High Commissioner (Orgaz)


Mr. Childs referred to the conversation he had had with General Orgaz on March 13 regarding the possibility of economic aid for Spanish North Africa and Tangier and stated he had been authorized to broach informally to him the possibility of the conclusion of an agreement for economic assistance to those territories along the lines of the American agreement governing economic assistance to French North Africa.

Mr. Childs stated that if General Orgaz looked favorably in principle upon the suggestion and was willing to engage in negotiation of an accord he would be pleased to inform his Government.

Such an arrangement would permit the purchase and shipment from the United States of foodstuffs and such other non-military articles as may be available in the American market, the quantity to be determined on the basis of the current needs of the area concerned. It must be recognized that many articles such as rubber goods, trucks and tractors are in such short supply in the United States owing to war demands, that their export from the United States probably could not be permitted.

The suggestion for an agreement contemplates that:

Periodic quotas would be drawn up covering the needs of Spanish North Africa and Tangier in goods and in the amounts the United States might find it possible to furnish.
The supplying of Spanish North Africa and Tangier would not result in the building up of excessive stocks.
Measures would be taken with a view to assuring that products exported from the United States to the areas in question will be consumed in the territory and will not be re-exported in any form and further that the export from the area under reference of similar goods will likewise be prohibited.
With a view to carrying out the foregoing the American Government would be authorized to designate representatives stationed in the area for such control. It would obviously be desirable that such officers be permitted to reside in Melilla and Ceuta, as well as in Tetuán. The officers appointed for the control of the program of economic aid should have every facility extended them by the Spanish authorities with a view to the carrying out of their mission.

Mr. Childs observed that while at this stage he had no definite instructions concerning the reciprocal economic advantages which he [his] Government might expect in return, he considered that they might well include:

Facilitating the transit through the ports of Tangier, Ceuta and Melilla of products from the French Protectorate destined for the United States;
The granting by the authorities of the Spanish Zone of every reasonable facility to the Government of the United States to acquire any products in Spanish Morocco, Tangier or the Metropolitan areas of Ceuta and Melilla which might be of interest to the United States;
The granting of facilities to American oil companies operating in Spanish North Africa and Tangier in 1936 to resume their distribution of oil products.

Although the advantages are recognized of having American vessels participate in trade with Spanish North Africa and Tangier, it is considered unlikely that American shipping can be spared for this purpose and it would be safe to assume that supplies obtained in the United States would have to be carried by Spanish vessels.

Mr. Childs observed that the foregoing tentative and exploratory suggestions, which are proposed informally and would of course be subject to subsequent discussion and agreement, are inspired by the American Government’s desire to assist Spanish Morocco and Tangier in their present difficult situation. It should be obvious that the maintenance of the status quo in Spanish North Africa would be an essential condition to the conclusion of any agreement.

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