The Chargé in Spain (Bonsal) to the Secretary of State

No. 3506

Sir: I have the honor to submit below certain considerations regarding the policy which the Department might adopt in the matter of recognition of any new Spanish government which might emerge as a result of political developments within the country.

It is assumed that the recognition issue would not arise unless the new government fulfilled at least the minimum requirements of the so-called Estrada doctrine. However, as I have already indicated (see [Page 1059] the Embassy’s telegram 85 of January 311), the opinion has been expressed by some members of the opposition to the Franco regime that in the event that a “paper” government is formed which is deemed truly representative of the Spanish people, recognition should be forthcoming even in the absence of the removal of the present regime. This is an interpretation of the tripartite statement of March, 1946 for which I can see no basis. The question of the attitude to be observed by the Department with regard to any opposition organization or self-styled government prior to the removal of the present regime will be the subject of other communications to the Department.

There is no doubt that the prospects of anti-Franco groups or coalitions within Spain are becoming more promising. Therefore, the attitude which the British and ourselves may assume in the matter of recognition in the event that such groups or coalitions manage to achieve power is becoming of increasing urgency and should be defined. In fact, it is my belief that not only should the policy be defined but that this Embassy should be authorized in its discretion, following consultation with the British Embassy and perhaps also with the French Mission here, to make it known at an appropriate time to opposition leaders. Those leaders are, of course, much concerned with the matter and we will eventually, in fairness to them and in furtherance of our own stated policy toward Spain, have to express a point of view particularly if and when a practical agreement is reached among opposition groups. (See, for example, the Embassy’s telegram 97 of February 4.)

My recommendation in the matter involves a separation between the two principal aspects of the matter:

the recognition of a new government and maintenance of diplomatic relations with it, and
cooperation with the new government in economic and political matters, appointment of an American Ambassador to Spain and advocacy of Spain’s admission into the United Nations.

Recognition should in my judgment be accorded as soon as in our judgment the new government appears to control the situation, to enjoy the at least passive acquiescence of the people and to have pledged itself to the performance of its international obligations. The added condition might be injected that it should pledge itself as soon as possible to ascertain the will of the Spanish people regarding the constitutional future of the country. Whether to add this condition would depend very much upon circumstances. Such a statement would [Page 1060] in all likelihood be made in any ease. I assume that this matter of recognition of any new Spanish Government would be handled individually rather than through the United Nations.

The second phase of the problem would then be subject to developments here. We might wish to make it clear that economic and political cooperation, the designation of an American Ambassador to Spain and support of Spain’s admission into the United Nations would depend on the reestablishment in Spain of fundamental individual freedoms. On the other hand, circumstances might be such that we would find it desirable to bolster the new government (which would undoubtedly find itself in a position of considerable difficulty from the economic point of view) without exacting any very specific pledges. It is my opinion that we would wish to make no statements or commitments which would unduly tie our hands and take away from us the possibility of action designed to further our own best interests in Spain.

Those interests clearly lie in the direction of the appearance here as soon as possible of a government of moderate tendencies able to steer a course between the extremes of rigid dictatorship of the reactionary and fascist elements on the one hand and on the other the social revolution advocated from Moscow. In order to promote such a situation we will obviously not find it possible to apply too rigid a series of definitions and conditions but will have to be guided by our estimate of the practical possibilities of Spanish politics at the time we are called on to make our decisions.

In conclusion I wish to emphasize that I believe that a time may come when the activities of the opposition to Franco, especially among military and middle class circles here, will be stimulated and facilitated if the leaders of those elements could be given a general idea of the recognition policy which would be followed by our Government and by the British Government. I should appreciate receiving the views of the Department on the matter.

Respectfully yours,

Philip W. Bonsal
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