The Chargé at Tangier (Childs) to the Secretary of State
[Received June 26.]
Sir: I have the honor to report that a controversy has arisen between the local Spanish authorities and my British colleague65 concerning an attempt on the part of the former to open ten cases and four parcels of official supplies and printed matter addressed to the British Consulate General. Details concerning this controversy will be found in the enclosed copy of a communication, dated June 9, 1942, [Page 495] addressed by my British colleague to General Uriarte, the Delegate in Tangier of the Spanish High Commission, the paraphrase of a telegram dated June 9, 1942, addressed by my British colleague to the Foreign Office on the subject, and a copy of General Uriarte’s communication of June 15, 1942, to the British Consulate General,66 stating that it “is not within the latter’s power to interfere with the customs regime in force in Spain and in the Zone of the Spanish Protectorate in Morocco”, adding that “this measure in no way interferes with rights and privileges and that it affects all persons in general”.
My British colleague informs me today that the position with him at the moment is that he is waiting to see whether the Foreign Office feels inclined to give him any guidance in the matter. He adds that if he permits the Spaniards to open these parcels it may create an awkward precedent. He observes that if he sends the parcels back to Gibraltar whence they came, the Spanish will be likely to harbor suspicions against him and it does not seem that it will solve the problem for the future. Incidentally, while the British packages consist of nine cases of paper and office supplies, four cases comprise propaganda material intended for distribution in Spanish North Africa.
This morning I sent a servant of the Legation to the Spanish post office to withdraw seven parcels addressed to the Legation by the American Embassy in Madrid, presumably containing magazines which are thought to be copies of En Guardia or Selecciones which we have been distributing in this area. The customs official in attendance insisted that the packages be opened for examination. The Legation servant declined to permit this and left the parcels in care of the post office, returning to the Legation to report the occurrence.
As there did not appear to be any great urgency in obtaining delivery of the seven parcels, I have thought it preferable to forward under cover of this despatch to the Department a copy of a note which I propose to address to my Spanish colleague67 who is Chief of General Uriarte’s Diplomatic Cabinet. I would appreciate receiving as soon as possible by telegram any comments the Department may have to make on my draft.
At the same time I am requesting the Embassy in Madrid to forward future shipments of publicity material to us in a sealed diplomatic pouch through the open mail. In this connection my Spanish colleague is reported to have suggested to my British colleague the advisability of pursuing this practice in order to avoid raising the issue which is the subject of this despatch.[Page 496]
My British colleague has informed me that he understands the Spanish are applying the new regulation concerning the opening of packages addressed to diplomatic and consular establishments in Tangier, other than diplomatic pouches, to the German Consulate General, but he has not yet been able to obtain any particulars on the subject.