The Ambassador in Spain (Armour) to the Secretary of State
[Received December 2—6:39 a.m.]
2430. I called yesterday on General Franco to say goodbye. In the course of a 2-hour conversation, his characteristic volubility was such as to justify description as a filibuster by a man not desiring to discuss certain unwelcome topics upon which his mind was made up. However, I was able to get across very definitely certain points.
- I emphasized disappointment at slowness of political evolution during my stay here.
- Although recognizing that foreign correspondents in Spain have now freedom from censorship, I pointed out with concrete examples that there has been no liberalization of local press control.
- I referred to the question of political prisoners and urged greater publicity and clearer definition of govt policy.
- I said that the Falange, the symbol of cooperation with our enemies, seemed as influential as ever.
- I said to him that in all frankness I must state that I considered the situation serious and I knew that my British colleague shared my opinion: that opposition to his regime in the US, far from lessening, had increased during the past months, and that our Govt, as he must know, was being submitted to ever-increasing pressure to break relations, not to mention the South American Republics where, as he knew, certain govts had already broken and others were showing a disposition in the same direction.
To all this General Franco replied with a great flow of familiar generalities and digressions. He said that opposition abroad to his regime is artificially stimulated by Communist elements and is based upon widespread ignorance of conditions here. He was particularly eloquent regarding the Communist threat to Europe and South America.
In closing I asked General Franco what I could tell the President and Secretary regarding Spain’s political evolution. He replied that I might say he is working honestly and loyally for evolution on liberal lines, that the problems confronting him and his collaborators [Page 695]particularly those arising from the Spanish Civil War and the World War counsel patience on our part. He emphasized the need for avoiding further fratricidal strife in Spain. He closed by regretting that I could not stay on for another year since he believed that at the end of that time I would be convinced of the truth of his words.
I wish to stress that General Franco’s attitude throughout our talk was one of complete confidence and self-righteousness.