852.00/7–745: Telegram

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

1468. From recent talks with the Foreign Min and other Spanish officials it now seems reasonably certain that Franco shortly is to make a pronouncement on the steps he proposes to take toward an evolution of the regime and that this will probably be in the form of a speech to be made on July 18, anniversary of the beginning of the Span Civil War. A plenary session of the Cortes has been called for July 13–14 when the bill of rights, possibly the municipal election law, and certain other measures will be voted. At least two Ministers have told me that there will be Cabinet changes, including the elimination of all or some of the Falange Ministers and their replacement probably by members of the Acción Católica; that Arrese will go out and the Ministry of Movement be suppressed. Carceller states quite openly that he is slated for the Ministry of Finance.

There is a report given me by certain of my colleagues that Lequerica will leave the Foreign Office. Those who are inclined to give some credence to this last report claim that Franco for some time has been irritated by Lequerica’s independent attitude and furthermore is not satisfied with his handling of Spanish French relations. It is rumored that he wishes to give the post to Mateu, former Mayor of Barcelona and at present Span representative in Paris, who reputedly enjoys his confidence. I believe all this is highly speculative.

While Franco’s recent interview with Bradford of the United Press set forth the general lines of the evolution he has been developing over a period of months, there seems little doubt that recent events, notably the attack on the Span regime at UNCIO,21 coupled with [Page 681]thought that the action first by Guatemala and then by Panama may be infectious, have brought home to him the urgency for action. He probably hopes by combining these various steps in a single pronouncement, probably coupled with a reference to the constitution of a Regency Council and an announcement of some lessening of the press control, to curb local criticism and to divert attacks from abroad.

I am not sanguine that any real evolution is to be expected or that fundamental changes, notably complete disestablishment of the Falange, will be forthcoming. Even Franco’s own Ministers, however, admit that they do not pretend to know what he has in mind and appear to be completely in the dark as to how far he proposes to go in his announcement on July 18 or the date chosen. Lequeriea still professes to be optimistic that things are moving in the right direction. I have advised him that if Franco hopes to change public opinion abroad, notably in the United States, a real and fundamental change in the structure of the present regime will be necessary. The real test of the adequacy of the reform measures, however, would lie with Span public opinion itself. Although I believe Lequeriea is sincere when he assures me that he thoroughly agrees with this and has so informed Franco, I am not certain how strongly Lequeriea has dared to express himself to Franco or how much weight his opinions carry.

Armour
  1. United Nations Conference on International Organization held at San Francisco, April 25–June 26, 1945. Reference is apparently to objections to membership of Spain in the United Nations voiced at the Third Meeting of Commission I on June 19, 1945. For text of minutes on this subject, see Documents on International Organization, vol. 6, pp. 124–136.