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

No. 1038

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Legation’s despatch No. 422 of October 29, 194163 which reported a conversation with Colonel Carvajal, at that time Administrator of the Tangier district, when he appealed for the collaboration of the Legation in keeping down the local cost of living. The despatch under reference also set forth the terms of the explanations given to Colonel Carvajal of the treaty situation of the United States in Morocco which would necessarily govern the cooperation of the Legation with the authorities for the purposes in question.

There are now transmitted herewith for the Department’s information and such comment as it may deem desirable to make, copies of correspondence exchanged with Colonel Carvajal’s successor, General [Page 492] Uriarte, delegate in Tangier of the Spanish High Commissioner at Tetuán in the same connection. The correspondence consists of two letters both dated September 3, 194264 received from General Uriarte which reveal his misapprehension as to the situation explained to his predecessor, and the Legation’s restatement of that position as embodied in its reply dated September 15, 1942 to the aforementioned communications.

Respectfully yours,

J. Rives Childs

The American Chargé at Tangier (Childs) to General Jenaro Uriarte, Delegate in Tangier of the Spanish High Commissioner for Morocco

Dear General Uriarte and Distinguished Friend: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your two letters dated September 3, 1942 in which you refer to charges made by the local Price Controller against the American protégés … of the alleged sale of toilet soap at abusive prices, and of the holding of clandestine stocks of green tea.

In response to your appeal for my contribution in the prevention of profiteering at the expense of the community in the present period of scarcity, I need hardly assure you, dear General and distinguished friend, that you may count upon the fullest cooperation possible on the part of the Legation where American ressortissants may be concerned. However, I should add that the Legation’s efforts to secure the practical attainment of the purpose in view could not involve resort to measures, or the adoption of any form of procedure prejudicial to the American treaty position.

The Legation has no authority to waive or to compel American ressortissants to waive the exercise of their existing treaty rights in Morocco, such for instance as their right to conduct their businesses in complete liberty without interference of any kind on the part of the Moroccan authorities. Consequently, American ressortissants cannot be legally coerced, either by administrative action on the part of the Legation or by judicial action of the American Consular Court, into making declarations of stocks held by them, or into selling their goods at arbitrarily fixed prices. In these circumstances it is obviously beyond the power of the Legation to give its sanction to the imposition of fines, such as those suggested by the Price Controller on … for their failure to comply with regulations which they cannot be judicially constrained to observe. That is the legal position and, as the Shereefian Government has been informed by the Legation, [Page 493] the Department of State is unable to give its formal approval to any departure therefrom.

This situation was explained to Colonel Carvajal on the occasion of his visit to me on October 23, 1941 when he informed me of the appointment of a Price Controller in Tangier, referred to a revival by decree of October 21, 1941 of a law dated November 2, 1939 passed by the Tangier Legislative Assembly which imposed restrictions and control over trading in the Tangier Zone, and asked me to apply these measures to American nationals and protégés. In accordance with the position above set forth, I informed him that although these measures, in as much as they were derogatory of the principles of the Moroccan treaties, could not be legally enforced upon American ressortissants, the Department had directed the Legation to examine with the Moroccan authorities arrangements designed to avoid special difficulties prejudicial to the interests of the local communities which might result from the failure of the American Government to give its formal approval to legislation enacted in Morocco as a result of the present exceptional circumstances.

Colonel Carvajal was informed that the Legation would be glad to extend to the Spanish authorities such a regime of cooperation, subject of course to the Department’s stipulations that the contemplated arrangements did not prejudice the American treaty position or the legitimate activities and interests of American ressortissants in Morocco. Colonel Carvajal expressed his satisfaction and added that the Spanish authorities understood the extraterritorial situation of the United States in Morocco and had every intention of respecting it. I replied that I considered that American ressortissants, as members of the Tangier community, should cooperate to the fullest possible extent in the welfare of that community and that, moreover, I did not anticipate any difficulty in persuading them voluntarily to do so.

Indeed, in view of the foregoing explanations as to the constitutional limitations on the action of the Legation in the premises, it will be appreciated that the only possible basis for the cooperation of the Legation with the Spanish authorities lies in the use of its persuasion to induce American ressortissants voluntarily to accommodate their methods of trading with those implied in the local regulations to which you allude in this connection. The Legation is confident that it will be able to persuade American nationals and protected persons, in these exceptional times, to observe their moral obligations in this respect toward the community of which they are members, and it will spare no efforts, in its administrative capacity, to prevail upon them faithfully to carry out such voluntary undertaking once it is given. As an example I would point to the full measure of cooperation which has been encountered by the local authorities on the part of American oil companies.

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However, any inference on the part of the authorities that the Legation should depart from the above basis of operation, such as the expectation that it should impose administrative fines on American ressortissants, could only tend to render its task more difficult.

The Legation’s cooperation with the authorities, and particularly with the Price Controller, can repose only on an informal, though very friendly and sympathetic basis. I endeavored to make this clear to Colonel Carvajal when, in my reply dated January 29, 1942 to his request of January 26, 1942 that the American protégé, Mr. David S. Bergel, attend upon the Price Controller, I informed him that such attendance had been ordered by the Legation without prejudice to American treaty rights and would be limited to the purpose of giving information.

Subject to these conditions the Legation will be pleased to continue its cooperation with the Price Controller. It will examine with equal objectiveness how far the profits of American ressortissant traders can be rationally limited and in what measure such limitation is compatible with the sale prices fixed and with other conditions imposed by the authorities on trade, without jeopardy to the maintenance by American ressortissants of the continued existence of their businesses.

On this basis, my dear General and distinguished friend, I feel sure that our joint efforts in the interests of the community should prove to be successful.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

With kind personal regards,

Sincerely yours,

J. Rives Childs