368. Letter From the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Tyler) to the Ambassador to Spain (Woodward)0
Dear Bob: I thought I would give you an account of what went on when Garrigues presented his credentials this morning. He spoke to the President at some length and with great earnestness. He started by telling the President how great is his affection for the United States. He spoke of his family here and of his long association with this country. He said that he had accepted the post of Ambassador in Washington with only one aim in view: to strengthen and to deepen the ties between his country and ours. He was extremely frank, without any trace of embarrassment, about his own political position. He said he was not a supporter of Franco, and that he had always remained entirely independent. He said it was for this reason he had been chosen, and that this very fact was a certain indication that Franco intended to bring about far-reaching changes in the social structure of Spain, which were of very great importance, and which would pave the way to a peaceful succession to his regime. Garrigues said that he had been struck by the spate of recent articles in the American press which heralded the end of the Franco regime. He said he felt that, whatever the emotional justification for this attitude might be, an abrupt end or collapse of the present form of government in Spain would be disastrous, not only for Spain but for the West as a whole. He said it was most important that the peaceful changes which had to be made in the political and social structure of Spain would be brought about while Franco was still in power. There was no alternate guarantee of order and stability in Spain at this time, and the fact that Franco was disposed to prepare for his successor made it all the more important that his efforts be viewed with sympathy and understanding by the United States. He felt that the President’s own attitude toward these problems was of the greatest importance and he would like to be able to tell Franco that the President saw these matters in the same light and would bring his weight to bear in a sense which would facilitate the course of events which he had just outlined.
The President listened to all this with evident interest, asking one or two questions here and there. I noticed that the President was careful not to give a direct reply which constituted a message from him to Franco through the Ambassador. The President did say that he agreed in general with the importance of providing for an orderly and peaceful transition to the post-Franco period, and that he would want to be helpful in this in so far as he could be. I had the impression that Garrigues [Page 1000]had hoped for something more direct and more responsive to his plea for an assurance which he could convey from the President to Franco. However, all in all, I think that Garrigues made a good impression on the President, and that the latter did not mind the “unprotocolaire”, directness and intensity with which Garrigues broached this burning subject in his first call on him. I feel that Garrigues is someone with whom we are going to be able to speak very frankly, and that he does indeed have a burning desire to be the architect of a Spanish-American rapprochement, which he identifies with the future of his country. I should add that he stressed the importance of Spain’s approach for admission to the Common Market, initially by association, and of the renewal of the base agreement
With best wishes,
P.S. At one point during his talk, Garrigues showed the President a photostatic copy of a newspaper report (“ABC”) of a recent speech by Franco, with a headline to the effect that the task before Spain was to effect profound changes in Spain’s social structure.