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


No. 227

Subject: Possible Effects of ECA Loan on Embassy Relations with the Spanish Government

On the assumption that the sixty-two and a half million dollar aid for Spain, as appropriated by the Congress,1 is made available to Spain and the further assumption that the Department and this Embassy will have no controlling voice in the distribution and administration of these funds, I visualize a lengthy period of time during which this Embassy as presently constituted will be practically impotent so far as Embassy relations with the Spanish Government are concerned.

Since the President and the Secretary of State have clearly announced the Administration’s opposition to the credit, the Congress has by its action rather effectively taken out of our hands the conduct of one of the most important political factors in our relations with Spain. The Spanish authorities can, with reason, see little purpose to be gained in paying any further attention to our heretofore rather [Page 1574] futile efforts to encourage modification and change which might justify Spain’s integration into the Western grouping of nations.

Spanish authorities have on several occasions in the past expressed to me their views on the desirability of a direct bilateral ECA for Spain, under which Spain would not have obligations and responsibilities to other European countries. The Congress has certainly made a first-class liar out of me because I consistently told these authorities such a proposition did not have the chances of the proverbial snowball.

The two main factors, from the Spanish point of view, in our present relations with Spain are the return of an ambassador and economic help. Congress has given the latter, and the Secretary’s letter of January 18 to Senator Connally rather commits us to the former. Since both items are more or less assured, I expect Franco to sit back complacently until both are in the bag before undertaking any move involving government changes. Spain’s low priority on the UNGA agenda and the time that would be required to set up ECA–Spain lead me to believe that this period of complacent inaction will cover a period of several months. I am not, incidentally, predicting Franco will do anything even then. It is merely my guess that any action before that time is unlikely.

Paul T. Culbertson
  1. On August 25 the House and Senate had adopted the General Appropriation Act of 1951 (H.R. 7786) which included authorization of a loan of $62.5 million for the purpose of assistance to Spain. President Truman signed the bill on September 6 but in a statement on that day indicated that he did not regard the provision on Spain “as a directive, which would be unconstitutional, but instead as an authorization, in addition to the authority already in existence under which loans to Spain may be made.” Money would be loaned to Spain “whenever such loans will serve the interests of the United States in the conduct of foreign relations.” (852.10/8–2650)