852.48/814: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Spain (Weddell)

350. Department’s 346, December 14, 5 p.m., and your 723, December 13, 5 p.m.51 As soon as public announcement is made by the British Government of its arrangements for shipment of wheat to Spain from Canada and Argentina, we are ready to go ahead with the first of two or three shipments of foodstuffs to Spain through the American Red Cross, to be paid for out of the fifty million dollar appropriation for foreign civilian relief.

This action will be taken on the basis of the following three points, with which the Spanish Government has officially stated that it is in agreement (Your telegram 697, December 3, 11 a.m.):

No wheat from any source is being or will be exported from Spain;
The American Red Cross will be permitted, in cooperation with the Spanish Red Cross or such other Spanish organization as the American Red Cross may designate, to supervise and handle the arrangements for distribution of this wheat to the needy population of Spam;
The Spanish press will be informed and permitted to give full publicity to these shipments of wheat from the United States, including details regarding the arrangements that may be made for distribution in Spain.

On the basis of these assurances the American Red Cross will make public the following statement:

“In accordance with the suggestion of the President of the United States, the American Red Cross has agreed to undertake, on certain conditions, the shipment to Spain of a cargo of wheat or flour to meet the most immediate needs of the civilian population. President Roosevelt, aware of the foodstuffs difficulties of the Spanish people, has authorized the Red Cross to make the necessary shipment of supplies to be purchased with funds made available to him for foreign civilian relief. Representatives of the American Red Cross will visit Spain to cooperate with the Spanish Red Cross and other charitable interested Spanish organizations in the allocation and distribution of supplies.”

It will be observed that a slight change has been made in the first sentence of the foregoing statement in order to conform with the general practice of the Red Cross in undertaking foreign relief shipments. Please ascertain and report at once whether this statement as now drafted is agreeable to the Spanish Government.

In addition to the foregoing statement by the Red Cross, the President has approved the following message which you are authorized to convey to the Chief of the Spanish State as soon as the statement is released by the Red Cross:

“The President of the United States has authorized, in view of the statements of policy made by the Chief of State of Spain to the American Ambassador at Madrid on November 29, 1940, that United States Government funds be made available to permit immediate shipments of wheat or flour to Spain through the American Red Cross.”

You will be informed in advance of the date and time of release of the statement by the Red Cross at Washington, in order that you may arrange for its simultaneous release in Madrid. The message from the President to General Franco should be transmitted at the same time.

The Red Cross plans to ship either whole wheat flour or white flour and also, as indicated in our no. 346, powdered and condensed milk for children and possibly some medical supplies. Please ascertain and report as soon as possible whether whole wheat or white flour is preferred, and whether Spanish authorities have any objection to proposed shipment of powdered and condensed milk or medical supplies.

The possibility of initiating negotiations for the extension of credits by agencies of this Government to Spain in order to make possible the purchase of surplus commodities in the United States has been discussed with the President. It is believed that such negotiations may [Page 850] be initiated upon the basis that they would cover the attitude and intentions of the Spanish Government on the following points in which we have a vital interest:

That Spain intends to remain outside of the present war and does not contemplate extension of aid to the Axis powers.
Formal recognition by the Spanish Government of the validity of the claims of private American creditors for payment of blocked accounts owing to them in Spain.
Fair and non-discriminatory treatment of private American citizens in Spain and of American firms doing business with Spain, in accordance with the most-favored-nation principle.
Cessation of the press attacks and other manifestations of hostility toward this country in Spain and through Spanish sources in the Spanish-speaking countries of this Hemisphere.

It would also be made entirely clear throughout the negotiations that the continuance of any credits would be dependent not only upon the continued non-participation by Spain in the present conflict but also upon a faithful compliance with the other conditions agreed upon. The delivery of commodities would be allocated on a basis of monthly minimum shipments in accordance with demonstrated Spanish needs.

For your confidential information, it is proposed to make the following announcement in the event that credit negotiations are initiated on the basis already outlined, in order that the American public may be accurately informed of the facts upon which such action is based:

“The Spanish Government is very desirous of purchasing American surplus commodities for her economic rebuilding and has asked for time in which to make payments. This would probably include some Spanish commodities which we would desire. The Government of the United States is naturally interested in the mutually desirable improvement and development of commercial relations between the United States and Spain, and in the peaceful economic reconstruction of Spain. This Government feels that these objectives can only be achieved if Spain remains outside of the European conflict. Accordingly, the Government of the United States, in a spirit of cooperation with Spanish efforts for the furtherance of such peaceful economic reconstruction, has indicated that the appropriate governmental agencies are prepared to explore the possibility of an early initiation of discussions with representatives of the Spanish Government with a view to the extension of conditional, limited credits for the purchase of such surplus comomdities as wheat, corn and cotton.”

  1. Latter not printed.