182. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Call of Spanish Foreign Minister on President


  • US
    • The President
    • McGeorge Bundy
    • William R. Tyler
  • Spain
    • Foreign Minister Castiella
    • Ambassador Merry Del Val

The Foreign Minister congratulated the President on the successful Gemini flight.2 The President thanked the Foreign Minister and said that he thought the relations between Spain and the United States were on the whole good, though he could not understand why the Spanish government was dealing with Cuba and purchasing sugar above world market prices. At the President’s request, Mr. Bundy succinctly outlined the reasons why the United States feels that it is against the interest [Page 372] of the free world as a whole, and in particular of the Latin American countries which are the target of Communist intervention and subversion, to have dealings with Cuba which strengthen that country’s economy. The Foreign Minister said that Spain had made the sugar agreement with Cuba last year because it was in need of substantial sugar imports. He also said that Spain had eliminated its own shipping with Cuba. However there were many Spanish nationals in Cuba, whose interests and well being the Spanish government had to bear in mind. He said that there was one flight a week between Spain and Cuba and that there were 40,000 applications for this flight from Spaniards wishing to be repatriated. The Foreign Minister also said that wheat had been sold by Western countries to the Soviet Union and Communist China, and he implied that these transactions were comparable to Spain’s contract for purchase of Cuban sugar. Mr. Bundy then pointed out the difference between the Spanish case and the grain sales. He said that the latter had no effect on the stability of the Soviet regime, whereas even a difference of 2 or 3 per cent in the Cuban economy could make things easier or harder for Castro. He repeated that if it were merely a question of dealing with Cuba by ourselves, there would be no problem, but that the issue was Castro’s policy toward other countries in this hemisphere, and of the economic resources available to him in order to continue to carry out that policy.

In conclusion, the Foreign Minister thanked the President for having received him, and mutual good wishes were exchanged.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Spain, Vol. 1. Secret. Drafted by Tyler and approved by Bundy on March 25. Castiella also met with Secretary Rusk on March 25. A memorandum of their conversation is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 7 SP.
  2. Reference is to Gemini III, which made a 3-orbit, 4-hour flight on March 23.