121.67/3589: Telegram

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

739. Algiers 948, May 23. I was in Madrid when Tangier’s 722, May 21 was received and discussed situation with Embassy. It was agreed that it would be preferable to endeavor to clear up the incident locally in Tangier and only in the event satisfaction could not be obtained here should resort be had to representations in Madrid.

I saw Castillo this morning and he was very apologetic. He at first endeavored to place the initial blame on the discrepancy between the courier letter and the number of pieces of baggage carried by the couriers. I said he seemed to overlook the principle of international comity involved and that no justification could be adduced for the disgraceful manner in which two members of the staff of the Legation formally notified to him as members of our staff had been treated. I added I did not wish to enter into a discussion of the violation of our treaty rights which was also involved as our complaint was sufficiently well grounded on the basis of international comity.

Castillo assured me that he was drafting instructions to all frontier officials enjoining then [them] from any interference in the future with official couriers. I said that this was the ninth instance of such interference each one more aggravated than the last and I wished to be assured that there would be no repetition. (The British and French have also experienced difficulties but nothing comparable to this last incident). He assured me that there would be none. I remarked also that he was doubtless aware of the extremely bad press his Government already had in the United States and that if such an incident found its way into the American press it would be difficult to judge the consequences. Both he and I were well aware that the Axis was doing everything possible to disturb the relations between our two countries and to create incidents which would disturb those relations. I said that he and the Spanish authorities had fully as much interest as we in preventing Spanish officials from playing this German game. Castillo expressed himself as in full accord (as, however, he usually does).

I consider the situation has been admirably handled by Elbrick and unless the Department instructs otherwise I propose to take no further action in the light of Castillo’s firm assurances. Should the least difficulty be experienced by any courier in the future I propose to seek an interview at once with Orgaz5 and then to refer the situation [Page 724]to Madrid in the event I am unable to obtain satisfaction from the High Commissioner.

In response to an inquiry from Rabat I have asked that the couriers be instructed to decline firmly but courteously to submit to any inspection of their persons or baggage but to declare if called upon any personal funds in their possession when crossing the frontier.

Sent to the Department; repeated to Madrid, Algiers, and Casablanca for General Clark and Rabat.

  1. Gen. Luis Orgaz, High Commissioner in the Spanish Zone of Morocco.