Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State (Dunn)
Señor de los Ríos, who was formerly Ambassador from the Spanish Republican Government to the United States and now occupies the post of Minister for Foreign Affairs in the group which have set themselves up as the Spanish émigré government in Mexico City under the premiership of Señor Giral, came in to see me this morning at his request. He said that he was leaving on December 27 for a visit to London and Paris, and as he had seen some conflicting reports in the papers recently of the attitude of the United States Government toward the Spanish problem, he had thought, in view of our past association during his time here as Ambassador, that it would be well to come to see me and ask me frankly what our attitude is at present toward the whole Spanish question. He then took considerable time in describing to me, the composition of the Giral group and in stating the program he thought should be followed by the United States toward Spain. According to this plan, the United States should break off diplomatic relations with the Franco regime and should immediately recognize the Giral ministry as the Government of Spain. He said that, if the United States did not come to the assistance of the Giral cabinet by recognizing and supporting them, it would be necessary for them to make some arrangement by which the Communists were brought into their group. Up to the present time they had representation of all the Spanish elements except the Communists, but, if support were not forthcoming from the western democratic powers, the Giral ministry would find itself forced to enter into negotiations with the Communists in order that it might receive the support of [Page 705]Soviet Russia for its activities. Señor de los Ríos said that he had just seen a report in the press to the effect that the United States would require certain changes or readjustments in the Giral group before they would afford [accord?] recognition to it. He asked if I could inform him as to what changes or adjustments would be required, as they were most anxious to conform to anything we should consider desirable.
With regard to the latter point, I said that I did not know of any position which had been taken by the State Department or this Government to the effect that they would have to undertake certain changes before they would be granted recognition. I said that this Government was not making any stipulations or stating any requirements along those lines, and that, although I had only just returned from a rather extended absence on conference work, I had not heard of any plan of the kind he said he had seen in the press.
I told Señor de los Ríos that, of course, the attitude of this Government toward the Franco regime was clearly known and of public record, and there was no need to further elaborate on that for his benefit, I said that, as he probably had seen reported, we had just received from the French Government a suggestion47 that an exchange of views take place between the French, British, and United States Governments on the possibility of terminating diplomatic relations with the Franco regime. I could tell him that, far from raising any objection to the discussion of this subject, we would notify the French Government that we would be prepared to discuss every aspect of this question. I told Señor de los Ríos that I could also tell him that as the relationship between this country and the Spanish Government was deteriorating progressively, it was inevitable that the final outcome of such progressive deterioration would be a rupture of diplomatic relations between the two countries. I said that it was very hard to predict within what time such a result might eventuate, but that it was certainly moving toward that end, and it was possible and even likely that as a result of these conversations suggested by the French, a decision on the breaking of relations would be accelerated.
Señor de los Ríos went on then to press the advisability and necessity of the United States recognizing the Giral government, at which point I asked him whether he thought it would be possible for the Giral government to go into Spain in the event of General Franco’s leaving the power. He said that it would be necessary for some arrangement to be made which would guarantee the peaceful holding of free elections, and that in his opinion the result of such free elections would unquestionably be a government exactly similarly composed as the present Giral group. He then continued with a very exhaustive description of the objectives and composition of the different representative groups contained in the Giral government.[Page 706]
I asked Señor de los Ríos if he thought it would be possible for Franco to turn the power over to some kind of provisional council for the purpose of holding elections with a view to setting up a really representative democratic government in Spain. He said he did not think this was possible, and that the only procedure which could be followed would be to call in the Giral government to take over the power and make certain that the people were guaranteed a free expression of their choice, and that this would have to be supported by the insistent demand of the European democracies and of the United States.
I told Señor de los Ríos that it was rather difficult to discuss future developments with respect to Spain, but that I was very happy to inform him of the present attitude toward the Franco regime and also our attitude toward the suggestion of the French Government with respect to discussing a rupture of relations with that regime.
Señor de los Ríos said that he appreciated very much indeed the time I had given him, and that he felt that his information was very much clearer on the attitude of this Government. He hoped to see me either in London, if I went over for the United Nations meeting,48 or back in Washington upon his return, when we would have a further discussion and report the situation as we found it.