852.00/12–1847: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in Spain

top secret

903. Dept has carefully reviewed policy toward Spain and has reached conclusion that our primary objective at this time should be gradually to bring about normalization of relations, both political and economic, between Spain and western democracies, particularly US. Full normalization would be difficult if not impossible without substantial political and economic changes within Spain.

Fundamental and lasting improvement in regime can be brought about only by Span people themselves, not by interference from abroad. Our delegation at recent UNGA session emphasized this view, which appeared to be shared by majority of delegations other than those of Soviet bloc.

Primary desire of Spanish people, other than extreme leftists, is unquestionably for stability and avoidance of recurrence of civil strife. We emphatically do not desire to see Spanish state weakened to point at which disorder and civil strife might ensue. On other hand, indefinite continuance of present authoritarian repression serves to increase underground pressure which may eventually become explosive unless relieved in gradual and orderly manner.

For these reasons this Govt will seek to encourage orderly and peaceful evolution of Spanish Govt toward free and democratic regime representative of freely expressed will of Span people. We are convinced that such evolution must be both orderly and real (rather than any mere window dressing for present regime) if it is to serve best interests of Span people.

We consider choice as between monarchial or republican form of govt purely one for Span people themselves, provided they have opportunity freely to choose. Question of Franco’s removal from all connection with Span Govt also one for Spaniards alone to decide, but removal would obviously result in more substantial improvement in Spain’s international position than would liberalization of regime with Franco still participating.

We fully recognize need for broadest possible agreement among Spaniards on both objectives and procedures. Recent Robles-Prieto conversations are encouraging but only short preliminary step. Sincere agreement more far reaching and widespread within Spain will be necessary. We are of course mindful of difficulties impeding agreement including passions remaining from civil war, inherent instability of Spanish politics, complacency and support of present regime by various Rightist groups and present repression of political expression. We nevertheless wish to encourage such agreement and orderly evolution [Page 1097] in any way we can without giving cause for charges that we are unwarrantably interfering in internal Spanish affairs.

Insofar as US attitude can have influence within Spain, we hope to convince Rightist elements now supporting regime, particularly Army and Church, that we do not favor foreign intervention in Spain and are not seeking to reverse outcome of civil war, but that we do hope to see orderly evolution toward democratic govt under which their legitimate interests would not suffer, whose permanence would rest upon support of Span people rather than upon repression, and which would restore Spain to full political and economic place in international community. We hope center and non-Communist Left will recognize that such evolution will afford better chance of genuine attainment of their objectives than revolution.

In economic field this Govt contemplates gradual and unobtrusive relaxation of existing trade restrictions. No direct governmental financial assistance now contemplated. When consulted on private trade credits Dept will express no objection on political grounds, but leave economic risk to judgment of American interests concerned. (Economic housecleaning in Spain is apparently prerequisite on purely commercial grounds to any substantial increase in trade.) We would expect, however, to coordinate any positive economic assistance with political developments in Spain and to utilize it (not economic compulsion) to encourage democratic evolution. Possibility of Spain becoming internationally “respectable” in time to secure measure of assistance under European Recovery Program should be important influence.

Foregoing is for your general guidance but not for any specific démarche in absence of further instructions.

We are repeating this to AmVat instructing Parsons1 to communicate our general line of thought to Vatican with view to obtaining its reaction and possible exertion its influence in Spain along similar lines. We are not yet communicating our line of thought to anyone else.

Sent Madrid 903 rptd Am Vat 19.

  1. James Graham Parsons, Foreign Service Officer at Vatican City.