210. Telegram 283446 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Spain1

Following Secto 23011 sent action SecState Nov. 30; repeated to you. Quote. Secto 23011. Action: SecState, WashDC. From US Del Secretary on board 27000. Subject: Action Memo—Draft Instructions on Spain (S/S 7523824). For: Hartman, Stabler and Sonnenfeldt from the Secretary.

1. In the following paragraphs are the instructions which Stabler should use with Juan Carlos on Stabler’s return to Madrid December 2. They are substantively the same instructions you cabled out in draft with, however, a number of deletions. You should not draw any conclusions from these deletions. They cover matters which in my judgement can not be set down adequately in writing and which I would like personally to discuss to the King when we meet.

Begin text of approved instructions for the Ambassador from the Secretary.

1. You should see Juan Carlos as soon as possible following your return to Madrid and tell him that I look forward to seeing him in Madrid on either December 13 and 14 or December 14 and 15, if these dates are convenient. The exact dates will depend on whether or not the consumer-producer conference is held in December and this we should know later in the week. Just as soon as something is determined I shall be back in touch with you to work out the final dates and the timing of the announcement agreeable to the King. You should tell Juan Carlos that I hope to meet privately with him at least once during my stay in Madrid (i.e. without government Ministers.)

2. You should also tell the King that I have instructed you to inform the Foreign Minister that we are prepared to resume discussions immediately with the GOS to complete the seven complimentary agreements under the framework agreement and that, assuming all the work will have been completed by then, I shall be prepared to sign the overall agreement with the Foreign Minister while I am in Madrid.

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3. I also wish you to convey the following thoughts to Juan Carlos. Tell him that these reflect some of the comments he made to the Vice President, with whom I have discussed his conversation and impressions. You should tell him that I look forward to full discussions with him on these matters during my visit.

(A) The most important objective must be to maintain stability and internal tranquility both politically and economically while moving slowly to adapt the political situation in a way acceptable to the Spanish people, but also in a way which will permit Spain in the near future to play a role within the Western European and Atlantic framework. But the King should understand that Europe cannot set the pace for Spain.

Spain has to find its own way to its own set of institutions at its own pace. In particular the King should not permit himself to be pressed to go faster than the stability and tranquility of Spain will be able to tolerate.

(B) It is essential that the King, by his actions, establish himself as quickly as possible as the undisputed leader of Spain. Decisiveness, such as that displayed by his trip to the Sahara, will give the King the image as well as the substance of leadership. He should seek to achieve promptly as wide a popular base as possible. The King may want to consider, once he has made the necessary decisions on the President of the Cortes, the President of the Government, and the composition of the Council of Ministers, undertaking a series of visits throughout Spain to capitalize on his popular appeal and to establish his own personal contacts, not only with the people but with local leaders in various fields. The creation of this wider national base will give him his own constituency and thus additional authority in the central decision making process.

(C) The first order of business (unless these decisions have already been made) must be the choice of President of the Cortes and a decision on whether or not to carry on with Arias for a few months longer. It is vital that the person chosen for the Cortes be the “King’s man” and that his designation be a clear signal of the King’s desire to pursue a gradual, prudently-paced evolutionary course. It is important that in this first decision the King have his way and that he not permit a decision to be forced on him.

(D) By the same token the Prime Minister and the key Cabinet Members must all be men who will be prepared to respond positively to the King’s leadership and be absolutely loyal.

(E) While the King may have chosen not to preside over the Council of Ministers meetings in the belief that he should not become involved in the routine conduct of government, he must be certain that his wishes and views are fully known and fully represented to the gov[Typeset Page 689]ernment as a whole. Here again the Prime Minister and the individual Ministers will play a key role. The King must take a special care to see to it that he will not be relegated to a “figure-head” role. In such a role he will be defenseless.

(F) The King would do well to create immediately in his household a small but highly competent “Private Council” which can follow in detail everything that is happening, prepare studies and options for him, and act as his independent channel into the government, the military and the private sector. He would do well not to rely on the bureaucracy as such for the necessary analyses and action recommendations, but rather on a small selected group of loyal, younger men who are completely trustworthy.

(G) In all of this it is useful that the King have the most favorable press possible. He should appoint a competent and respected Press Secretary who can have good access to both the domestic and foreign media. TV is also of particular importance and the Press Secretary would have a special role in serving as a direct link between the King and the Information Minister whose choice is also a particularly important one.

(H) Vice President Rockefeller mentioned to the King public opinion polls as a tool to determine what the people want and the possible direction of public policy. We are prepared to help in any way we can to advise on how these polls might be used and on the techniques. The King will want to have a polling mechanism on which he can personally rely and we are not certain that a mechanism presently exists in Spain which can be adapted for this purpose.

(I) The King should be careful not to move too fast with respect to the evolutionary process. His first decisions on the presidency of the Cortes and on the Prime Minister are crucial. He should reflect carefully on the sort of Spain he would like to see emerge in the next two or three years and then plot a program of gradual but sustained progress towards that goal. He must at all times work to maintain and to increase his own political base and strength in the country. Each action of an evolutionary nature should be accompanied by a period of consolidating and reinforcing his own personal position, through trips, through appointments to national and provincial positions of younger men linked to him both personally and as the leader of the younger generation in Spain, through media contact, through foreign visits, etc. Ultimately some thought might be given to a referendum but it is our belief that this should be kept in the background until the King’s position is so consolidated that its successful outcome cannot be in doubt (here again public opinion polls would be useful in making the necessary judgements).

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(J) We recognize that one of the most difficult problems for the King will be the accurate measurement of the relative strength of the contending political forces. The fact is that the Franco institutions remain firmly in place and have a defined strength. The non-Communist opposition, while clearly existing, has not had its relative strength tested through any electoral process. We believe that there are many Spaniards who believe that evolution can be achieved through the gradual adaptation of the present system and that the notion of a “democratic rupture” is not only unnecessary but a dangerous way of thinking. With this we agree. The King may wish to consider the creation of some special commissions to study various political, regional, labor and economic problems. The appointment of such commissions would in themselves have a psychological impact, although if they should unduly prolong their deliberations, they could have ultimately a negative effect.

(K) We do not have, nor should we have, an ideal prescription for Spain. We know that there are vast numbers of Spaniards who do not want the pattern of the past years to remain unchanged in the future. However we are certain that the King recognizes that the problem is to relate changes to stability. This can only be assured if change is brought about gradually and in the full knowledge that the overwhelming majority of the Spanish people want to preserve the benefits of economic and social progress which they have achieved.

(L) The King well knows that he has our support as he moves forward and he should never hesitate to look to us for whatever advice and council we may be able to give him.

End approved instructions. Unquote.

  1. Summary: The Department sent instructions for Stabler’s meeting with Juan Carlos.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, N750006–0388. Secret; Cherokee; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Barbour in EUR/WE; cleared by Hoganson and Woods in S/S; and approved by Hartman. In telegram 284990 to the Secretary’s Delegation, December 3, the Department forwarded to Kissinger a report from Stabler on his December 3 talk with Juan Carlos. (Ibid., N750006–0428) Kissinger’s proposed trip to Madrid in December was postponed until January 1976.