Memorandum of Conversation, by the Counselor of the Department of State (Bohlen)


Participants: Mr. Trifon Gomez, Vice President of the Spanish Socialist Party and Head of the Labor Union UGT in exile;
Mr. Antonio Reina, International Ladies Garment Workers Union (AFL); and
Charles E. Bohlen, Counselor, Dept. of State

Mr. Gomez called by appointment this afternoon to present his point of view concerning the situation in Spain. His chief point was that in view of the understanding reached between the Monarchists and the Socialist non-Communist trade union organizations1 he very much hoped that there would be no move on the part of the United States [Page 741] Government which would alter what he termed “the status quo” in Spain. He developed at considerable length the point of view expressed in the paper entitled “Report to the United States State Department”2 which he left with me. He seemed particularly concerned about reports which he had heard of forthcoming U.S. Government economic aid to Franco. He said that he felt this possibility was being extensively exploited in Spain by Franco with members of his own entourage who were beginning to be seriously concerned over the economic situation in Spain. Mr. Gomez did not predict any great change inside Spain in the immediate future but did state that the Monarchists were making considerable headway he felt in the Spanish army and even in Franco’s entourage and that there Was a possibility of some changes if Franco could no longer hold out the hope of very important economic aid from the United States. He furthermore said that the organizations he represented were strongly anti-Communist and had no Communist affiliations whatsoever but that the Communists were making great propaganda to the effect that the Western Powers would support and sustain the regime of Franco.

I told Mr. Gomez that, in the first place, we regarded the problem of Spain as a European problem and that this Government would not, I was confident, adopt any policy that ran counter to those of the democracies of Western Europe; that our position had consistently been: (1) that we had no sympathy whatsoever for the regime of Franco; and (2) that we would not be prepared to take the responsibility in regard to any move which might bring on a renewed civil war in Spain; that we would not wish to be parties to any move which would inflict upon the Spanish people another ordeal of that character and furthermore the effect of any such development in Spain on the present international situation might well precipitate a world conflagration. I told him that in so far as the status quo was concerned I knew of no move on the part of the United States which would alter the present circumstances; that we did not anticipate that the 1946 resolution concerning Ambassadors would be cancelled at the present General Assembly (I did not go into any specific reference to our attitude.) but that there might be some change in the question of Spanish admission to the specialized agencies explaining that they were of a purely technical, public health, etc. nature and did not have any political connotation. I told Mr. Gomez that, as he was aware, normal trade with France [Spain] through private channels was going on and that we had not had any embargoes and were not contemplating any in respect of this trade. I said that there were many people who felt that the 1946 resolution had been a mistake in that it was a slight [Page 742] extension of the normal functions of the United Nations and did not seem to have produced any improvement from the point of view he expressed in the situation in Spain, but as long as it remained a resolution of the General Assembly I was sure the United States would continue to abide by it. I questioned the validity of external pressure as a means of dealing with the Spanish situation since in cases of this kind it usually afforded the regime an opportunity to draw on the national pride of the people.

Mr. Gomez said that while he understood this point he felt that on the whole the Spanish people realized that the lack of foreign benefits was due to the Franco regime and not to any hostility towards the Spanish people on the part of other countries and emphasized that he was not suggesting in any way any new measures against the Franco regime but merely that there should be no change in the direction of affording Franco help and support from abroad.

I told Mr. Gomez that I would pass on to the Secretary the recommendation he had made as well as the other documents which he left with me. (Documents attached3)

Charles E. Bohlen
  1. Documentation concerning the agreement among the various Spanish exile groups in the fall of 1948 is in Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. iii, pp. 1051 ff.
  2. Not printed.
  3. None printed; in addition to the report to the State Department, attached were an appeal to various embassies from the Socialist party, a report to the United Nations, a document entitled “The Atlantic Pact” which indicated Franco’s desire to join the pact, and some background notes on Trifon Gomez.