The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Spain (Weddell)
250. Your 542, October 8, 7 p.m. In view of the statements of General Franco mentioned in the second paragraph of your telegram under reference, the President has requested the American Red Cross to make arrangements at once for a shipment of wheat, or flour if preferred, to help meet immediate needs of the civilian population in Spain.
Various problems and questions of procedure involved in this undertaking are receiving serious consideration by the Red Cross in consultation with the Department, and are set forth herewith for your information and comment:
1. It may be preferable to ship flour rather than wheat since the flour can be distributed directly to the needy population for immediate consumption. Moreover, it may be possible to ship the flour in small sacks appropriately marked and thereby better control distribution, as well as obtain some assurance that publicity will be given to its origin. If wheat were shipped there might be reason to fear possible diversion, as well as lack of publicity.
2. The Red Cross will send one or more representatives to Madrid as soon as shipment is determined upon to cooperate with the Spanish Red Cross and governmental agencies in arrangements for distribution. The Red Cross does not contemplate handling distribution in Spain directly but does feel it essential that it be in a position to assure itself through its own representatives and in cooperation with local [Page 816]representatives that whatever foodstuffs may be sent are given impartial distribution to persons in need in all parts of Spain. The Red Cross will be guided in its decision as to future shipments by the reports of its representatives in Spain, as well as by general political developments.
3. Shipment will be made by an American vessel to some port not in the combat area. If Vigo is unsatisfactory, it is suggested that consideration be given to Bilbao or Santander since American flag service is available to those ports.
4. A shipment of six to ten thousand tons of wheat or its equivalent in flour is contemplated at this time, depending upon tonnage of vessel available.
5. All costs of transportation to the port of discharge in Spain will be borne by the American Red Cross. The Spanish Government will extend necessary facilities and will bear all further costs in Spain.
6. The Department has been informed by the British Ambassador that his Government interposes no objection to this proposed shipment of foodstuffs to Spain by the American Red Cross and will not interfere with the ship en route to Spain.
It is proposed that the following statement shall be released simultaneously by the American Red Cross in Washington and by you in Madrid as soon as possible:
“The President of the United States, in view of the reports which have reached him of a serious shortage of food among the civilian population of Spain, and with the approval of the Spanish Government, has requested the American Red Cross to make arrangements for a shipment of flour (or wheat, as the case may be) to Spain to assist in meeting immediate needs. The President has approved the necessary expenditure for this purpose by the Red Cross from the funds made available under the Act of Congress approved June 26, 194030 for assistance to civilians rendered destitute by hostilities abroad. The flour will be shipped by an American flag vessel to a Spanish port outside of the combat zone in Europe, and will be distributed on an impartial basis to the needy civilian population in various parts of Spain. Representatives of the American Red Cross will proceed to Spain immediately to maintain direct contact with the interested Spanish organizations and to report upon the arrangements that may be made in the foregoing connection.”
You are requested to inform General Franco of the foregoing, including the statement which it is proposed to make public, and to report the result by cable as soon as possible, together with any further recommendations that you may care to make.
At the same time you may inform General Franco that this Government is prepared to discuss the bases for extension of credits to Spain with the accredited representatives of the Spanish Government, having in mind the essential conditions to which we have already referred [Page 817]in our nos. 229 and 235. Reference is had in this connection to the possible developments in the Spanish situation described in your 543 of October 8, 8 p.m.31