202. Key Judgments of National Intelligence Analytical Memorandum 27.1–1–751


Key Judgments

1. The approaching end of the Franco era carries many uncertainties for Spain—both as to short-term succession and longer-term lines of development. The essential political dilemma is that the regime must change in order to survive but any real change carries threats to its existence.

2. As for the short term, our best estimate is:

—The odds are against a radical upheaval in Spanish political life during the twilight and succession periods.

—The most likely course is for a more or less controlled opening up of politics to accommodate the more moderate political groups previously suppressed.

—Chances are better than even that Juan Carlos and Prime Minister Arias (or someone like him), aided by common fears of the alternatives, including civil turmoil, can keep a fairly broad base of support while deterring all-out bids for control by any one faction.

—Chances of such a modus vivendi are greater if Franco departs soon. The Spaniards need time for building institutions and evolving new practices. The present period, with Franco hanging on, is not conducive to more than tentative efforts in this respect.

3. This estimate relies heavily on the deterrent role of the Spanish military, which appears united and disposed to accept political change and has generally wanted to stay out of politics, but would be disposed to intervene if a serious threat to law and order developed or if a radical left-wing regime seemed about to come to power.

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4. This estimate also relies heavily on a non-alarmist short-term economic forecast, i.e., that the rapid growth of the past decade is not in the cards, but the economy will stay healthy enough to avoid a major increase in labor unrest. Failure in this area could alter the odds significantly, and the magnitude of Spanish economic difficulties should not be minimized. Moreover, the decisions are not entirely in Spanish hands but also involve Europe’s economic course.

5. Even in the short term, a radical polarization of Spanish politics, such as has happened in Portugal, cannot entirely be ruled out. Among the possible contingencies:

—A late bid for power by Franco’s family or the conservative coterie around him. This would challenge the left and the moderates, whom the government might be unable to repress fully.

—A bid for power by the more radical left with support from elements of organized labor. Such a bid would invite vigorous response from the right and some of the center, and the military.

—In a direct contest in the short term, the odds would favor the right/military side over the less organized left.

6. Spain has significantly greater political and economic strengths than Portugal and Spanish leaders know this. Nevertheless, the turbulent developments there have heightened tensions in Spain: conservatives point to Portugal as an object lesson in the dangers of lifting the lid through liberalization; reformers argue that Portugal demonstrates the dangers of not liberalizing early enough. Whatever the merits of these arguments, the effect of Portuguese developments has been to harden attitudes on left and right and probably to compress the time Spain has to resolve its problems.

7. Spain’s longer-term outlook is necessarily more problematical, but essentially involves the same dilemma—whether even a broadened establishment can, over time, gain adequately wide support without letting things get out of control. Opening up political life will easily, perhaps inevitably, give rise to escalating political demands stemming from labor-management differences, conflicts between different classes and age groups, and dissident regional loyalties. Resultant tensions will lead some in authority to advocate increased or recurrent repression, but it is questionable whether the government would have the will or capacity to carry it out.

—Economic conditions will play a major, not necessarily controlling, part in intensifying or ameliorating political strains.

—The armed forces will continue to be of central importance both as a deterrent against overt challenges from extremists and as arbiter or ultimate resort if turmoil does develop.

—The attitudes and policies of Western Europe and the US will be a factor in influencing Spain’s political orientation over the long haul.

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—Over the longer term, assuming increasing liberalization, there would be a growth of leftist and moderate strength. This would lead to increased turbulence in the Spanish political process, but the odds appear against the assumption of full power by either the extreme left or right.

8. Meanwhile, certain themes of Spanish foreign policy will continue—certainly in the short run, probably in the longer term as well. These include:

—Cautious efforts to develop closer relations with Western Europe, limited by fears of rebuff and some skepticism over where Europe is headed. The more liberal Spain becomes, the more a push-pull dynamic will bring it closer to Europe, but it has a long way to go in Europe’s eyes and there are limits on how high a price Spain will pay.

—A wary concern about trends in Portugal compounded of intense concern over left radicalism there and a strong disinclination to interfere. Should Portugal leave the Western camp, Spain would look to its defenses and seek to strengthen its ties with Europe, but would not openly intervene in Portugal.

—Policy toward the US will depend on a number of variables. In general, the more isolated Spain remains in Europe, the more it will want to emphasize a special relationship with the US. A perceived threat from Portugal would have similar effects. As a practical matter, Spain has no alternative but to look to the US for most of its armament needs.

—Nevertheless, Spanish reservations about the US tie persist. Many Spaniards view US base rights in Spain as more important to the US than Spain, and some see them as an embarrassing symbol of US support for Franco.

[Omitted here is the remainder of the 14-page memorandum.]

  1. Summary: The memorandum analyzed problems of the Spanish succession.

    Source: Central Intelligence Agency, History Staff Files. Secret. On March 28, Rockefeller told Ford, Kissinger, and Scowcroft: “I met with the Acting Foreign Minister of Spain. He is worried that the Communists are infiltrating all over the world. They are worried about their own transition. In the old days we would be planning how to have CIA help this transition.” Ford asked, “Is the CIA or 40 Committee doing nothing on Spain?” Kissinger replied, “In your speech, you should say the CIA arrangements with Congress must be changed. So long as you must report to 60 Congressmen, we can do nothing. We don’t need money right now—we need planning. I agree with Nelson—the Communists are on the march.” After Rockefeller and Kissinger discussed Latin America and various forms of U.S. assistance, Ford said, “I think we should do whatever we need to in Spain.” (Memorandum of conversation, March 28; Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, Box 10)