Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. John Y. Millar of the Office of Western European Affairs


Participants: Señor José Antonio Aguirre—President of the Basque Republic in Exile
Señor Galindez—Representative in the U.S. of the Basque Republic in Exile
Mr. Tobin—RA 1
Mr. Dunham—WE
Mr. Millar—WE

Señor Aguirre called at his own request and talked for two hours about the Spanish situation and opposition activities.

He said that while he thought the non-Communist opposition groups (Monarchists, Republicans, Socialists, Catalans and Basques) could eventually agree to a program for substitution of the Franco Government [Page 1557] and that considerable progress on preliminary discussions have been made during the past year, development of a united opposition would be greatly facilitated by the moral support of the United States. Although this support could take many forms, he felt that a statement now such as the Tripartite Declaration of March 4, 19462 would be helpful. The primary reason for the failure of the 1946 Tripartite Declaration was, he believed, that it appeared before opposition discussions had progressed sufficiently far to capitalize on the anti-Franco support.

If the opposition gets together and if it has promise of support from the United States, he feels that there is a good chance that top level Army officers would force Franco to step down, to be replaced by the government upon which the opposition had agreed. He also thought that the Vatican would back this plan.

He told us in extreme confidence that the Basque opposition elements in Spain were considering participation in a general strike on May 1, 1950, but that he had advised against Basque participation unless it appeared likely that the strike would actually break out all over Spain. If the Basques alone participated, he believed that the Basque country would suffer needlessly from suppression and retaliation.

Señor Aguirre plans to leave New York on March 27, 1950 and return to Paris. He has been in Mexico, Venezuela and Cuba visiting Basque groups. While in Washington he said that he had talked to officials of the CIO, AF of L and the ADA and had spoken to a group of 13 Senators and an unspecified number of Congressmen.

  1. Irwin M. Tobin of the Office of European Regional Affairs.
  2. For the text of the Tripartite Declaration of March 4, 1940, and partial texts of the accompanying 15 documents, see Department of State Bulletin, March 17, 1946, pp. 412–427.