840.48 Refugees/4017: Telegram

The Minister in Portugal (Fish) to the Secretary of State

1566. Legation’s 1557, July 15, and 1565, July 16. French refugees. The British Embassy has reported the action of the Portuguese Government to London and has been in communication with Madrid.

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We are informed that Sir Samuel Hoare made vigorous representations to the Portuguese Ambassador at Madrid who is alleged to have admitted that the action of the Portuguese Government in stopping the transit of French refugees at this time was for the purpose of bringing pressure to bear on the French in connection with the shipment of phosphates from North Africa. While there may be some truth in this it seems extraordinary in view of the fact that the first shipment of phosphates has already reached Portugal. However, in view of the increasing seriousness of the grain shortage here it is possible that the Portuguese may wish to use the refugee question as a lever in connection with their desire also to obtain badly needed cereals from the French. Please see our 134 Cross 3018, July 14.96

In view of the Mediterranean area it occurs to us that the time is favorable to press the Spaniards for a revival of the original plan to evacuate the refugees directly from Spain to North Africa thus bypassing Portugal.

Repeated to Madrid and Algiers.

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