The Chargé at Tangier (Childs) to the Secretary of State
[Received September 16.]
Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch no. 970 of August 13, 1942, and previous despatches on the subject of the opening by the Spanish Customs authorities of packages addressed to foreign diplomatic and consular representatives in Tangier, and to report certain interesting observations made to my British colleague by local Spanish officials in this connection.
Mr. Gascoigne, the British Consul General, has informed me that General Uriarte, the Delegate in Tangier of the Spanish High Commissioner, in discussing a day or two ago this question, had stated that the Spanish had proposed to open packages addressed to us containing publicity material as a result of their discovery of the importation by the German Consulate General of quantities of very violent anti-Jewish propaganda. General Uriarte stated the character of this propaganda had been discovered by accident. As a result the Spanish authorities had felt it essential in the interest of local public order to exercise a surveillance over the importation in the future of material likely to excite and inflame local passions.
General Uriarte stated that the question of the opening of packages of the American Legation and the British Consulate General had been referred to the Madrid government.[Page 503]
He suggested to Mr. Gascoigne that even in the event it should be decided by Madrid to exempt packages destined for the American Legation and the British Consulate General from examination, the Spanish authorities would greatly appreciate an offer on our part voluntarily to submit packages containing publicity material to examination as evidence of our good faith, which he did not question, and in order to strengthen the hands of the Spanish authorities vis-à-vis the Germans in respect of the opening of similar packages addressed to the German Consulate General. Subsequently a plea in behalf of this procedure was made to Mr. Gascoigne by his Spanish colleague. The subject has not been raised by any Spanish official with me.
In a conversation with me the British Consul General stated he was inclined to favor the Spanish suggestion and I on my part consider that it might be desirable to accede to the desires of the Spanish in this regard. So far as I know the packages which have been held up by the Spanish authorities addressed to us contain either copies of Selecciones or En Guardia and therefore the opening of packages containing them could not possibly prove embarrassing to the Legation. In the event the Spanish authorities do not recognize the contentions we have advanced concerning our treaty rights in the premises, a possible solution for the settlement of this controversy might be for us to submit to the examination of the packages with the entering of full reservations with the Spanish authorities as to the principle involved in respect of our treaty rights.
I would appreciate receiving an expression of the Department’s views concerning the suggestions made above.