187. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Bombing of a Spanish ship in San Juan harbor


  • Spain
    • The Marquis de Merry del Val, Ambassador of Spain
    • Nuno Aguirre de Carcer, Minister-Counselor, Embassy of Spain
  • U.S.
    • Assistant Secretary Leddy
    • Robert Anderson, Acting Director, Office of Western European Affairs
    • Frank Ortiz, EUR:WE

The Ambassador called at his request. He presented a memorandum concerning the bombing of the Spanish ship Satrustegui in the harbor of San Juan, Puerto Rico.2 The Ambassador asked if the investigation by U.S. agencies had produced any indication as to the perpetrators of the act. He asked if anyone had been detained. He cited specifically the Cuban refugee leader Orlando Bosch who in statements to the press had assumed responsibility for the attack.

The Ambassador said the attack on the Satrustegui was a more serious affair than the attack last year on the Aranzazu because the latest incident had taken place in U.S. territorial waters and Bosch made his statement in Miami.3 He said it was a well-known fact that no Spanish ships called at Cuban ports and the shipping company to which the Satrustegui belongs has not permitted its ships to call at Cuban ports for over three years, at great loss to the company. The Satrustegui was now laid up for repairs and this Spanish Company (The Compania Transatlantica) would suffer further losses.

The Ambassador said he regretted to state that the Spanish Consul General in San Juan reported that he was receiving no cooperation from local authorities there with regard to the incident.4

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Mr. Leddy replied that the appropriate U.S. agencies were conducting a very vigorous and active investigation of the incident. The agencies were aware of the statements made by Mr. Bosch.

The Ambassador said the incident could very well have serious adverse repercussions in Spain which would redound to Castro’s benefit. Mr. Leddy repeated that the U.S. was using its investigative resources vigorously.

The Ambassador said he hoped he would soon have a satisfactory explanation to forward to Madrid.5 He pointed out that the public statements by Bosch claiming responsibility constituted a second problem to the incident itself since either Mr. Bosch was responsible for the bombing and should be prosecuted or was insane and should be put in an asylum.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 33-4 SP-US/SATRUSTEGUI. Confidential. Drafted by Ortiz. The memorandum is Part 1 of 2 Parts. A memorandum of the portion of the conversation dealing with Gibraltar is ibid., POL SP-US.
  2. The memorandum was not found. An explosive charge rigged to the hull of the passenger ship detonated on October 9. Approximately 100 passengers on the ship escaped serious injury.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 180.
  4. In a November 3 letter to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Under Secretary Ball requested that the Federal Bureau of Investigation furnish the Department of State with whatever information it believed would be of use to the Spanish Government. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 33-4 SP-US/SATRUSTEGUI)
  5. In telegram 350 to Madrid, October 11, the Department of State instructed the Embassy to inform Foreign Minister Castiella that the incident would be thoroughly investigated and those found responsible brought to justice. (Ibid.)