711.52/326b: Telegram

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

254. Department’s 204, January 25, 11 p.m. Ambassador Cárdenas called on January 26 and was received by Mr. Taft32 with Labouisse33 and George34 present. He asked the meaning of the tanker suspensions. Mr. Taft replied that we were reconsidering our entire economic policy toward his country. We had sustained and proposed to continue to sustain Spanish economy, but we expected a cooperative attitude toward our desires in return. An effective program had been developed by us which operated more or less automatically. Cárdenas said he and Foreign Minister Jordana had worked hard for this. Mr. Labouisse recalled that whereas formerly tankers had been subjected to considerable delays, these delays had been eliminated. The Spanish Government had shown an evident reluctance, Mr. Taft said, in dealing [Page 308] with requests we considered reasonable and important. When Cárdenas inquired what he referred to, mention was made of (a) Italian ships, (b) continuing activity of German espionage and sabotage, (c) Blue Division, of which some part seemed to remain on the eastern front, (d) request for wolfram embargo, (e) financial arrangement with Germany, (f) the prospect of revival of German imports from Spain.

The tankers have been suspended, Mr. Taft said, because of discouragement here in this Government’s efforts to obtain Spanish action. He thought the most earnest consideration should be given by Spain to our problems and to Spain’s international position following defeat of Germany. In reviewing its policy toward Spain this Government is convinced it is strongly in the long term interest of Spain to cooperate and that the only result of further temporization would be to harm Spain’s normal trade and other prospects. Mr. Taft mentioned occasional references of the Spanish Government to political considerations involved, and said that while these might exist we had in mind rather Spain’s long term interests following the defeat of Germany. Cárdenas asked what political considerations Mr. Taft referred to, and the latter said the Spanish Government apparently was apprehensive for German attacks, although these seemed to him unlikely in the present military situation. When Cárdenas referred again to the German threat, Mr. Taft inquired whether there was specific information of any prospective attacks. Cárdenas replied in the negative.

Cárdenas then said he was placed in an impossible situation by the position taken by us, and could only resign and go home. Both Mr. Taft and Mr. George said any such decision would be deeply regretted here. Cárdenas said he and Jordana had directed their entire efforts toward furthering our cause and that he was convinced everything had been done that Spain’s security permitted. He was sure his Government felt as he did, and that this decision of the United States signified the complete failure of all the Foreign Minister and he had attempted, and that both would have to resign. Mr. Taft reiterated his hope that no such step would be taken.

  1. Charles P. Taft, Director, Office of Wartime Economic Affairs.
  2. Henry R. Labouisse, Jr., Chief of the Eastern Hemisphere Division.
  3. W. Perry George, Assistant Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs.