The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK—I think we can all be extremely proud of the way our Administration is handling the Cuban situation. We are consulting with the Inter-American Organization of States. We have not lost our heads and accepted the proposal of some of our leading militarists that we go in with the Marines and clean out all those who oppose us. This would not only be high-handed, but it is hardly probable we would want to set up a provisional government in Cuba—nor would we be welcome if we did. The whole idea, besides being an extremely dangerous one, fortunately is entirely impractical.

Other militarists suggest a military blockade. This is almost an act of war and, therefore, objectionable. It might be possible, with the agreement of the Inter-American Organization, to search vessels for arms beyond a defense minimum. But this would be a rather empty gesture. Fidel Castro is trying to defend himself, not from the U.S., but from Cuban exiles who might try an invasion, and for that he probably has a sufficient build-up by now.

Finally, how much does the Monroe Doctrine really bear on the present situation, or on any situation affecting South and Central America? Some people think it is still a valuable document. But I cannot see, since we have accepted equality with the other inter-American states, how we can justify behaving as the Monroe Doctrine envisioned. It assumes the big-brother attitude of protection which is no longer needed or wanted. It assumes a superiority which we certainly abandoned as far back as the Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration, and this abandonment is what brought us our first truly friendly relations with the rest of the South and Central American area.

I thought the President's explanation that we now live in one world, and that the consequences of any action in one part of the world affect the rest of the world, was a very healthy reminder for the American people. We think too much in compartments and too little of what would embarrass us in some quite different area of the world. This is something we had better learn to do. We are a world power of the first magnitude, but every other nation's reaction is important to whatever we do.

Spain is another trouble area about which I think the American people and even the members of Congress seem to be very poorly informed. All should read Salvador de Madariaga's article in the New Republic giving the history of what has happened in Spain, how Francisco Franco came to power, and what is now happening to the people as a whole.

The people now want a change in government. They are willing to have a constitutional monarch, but they want to get rid of a dictator and to do it without bloodshed. This is what they are trying to plan, and because of our support of Franco they are beginning (in fact it is beyond the beginning state), for they are already feeling bitterly toward the Americans as a whole. Our bases—already far less useful than they once were, if they are useful at all—are probably the reason for our continued support of Franco in the face of growing unrest among every group of the Spanish people.

The movement so far is free of Communist influence. But if we oppose the joint liberal movement, we may well force them into the hands of the Communists. Even the clergy in large numbers have joined with the opposition to the Franco government in trying to organize a peaceful change of government. They would not be in favor of political strikes; but the next strikes may be economic ones which the clergy, who are interested in the conditions under which people have to live, would support. In fact, in the last strikes the clergy fed the people. This is a very important new development and means much strength to the movement for a change in government.

In the face of all this, are we again going to find ourselves the enemies of the people, upholding a dictator? I think the people of the U.S. should take an interest in this question. At least some of the people could show that they would be sympathetic to a change of government without civil war. If the countries that believe in democracy do not back the liberals of Spain, the latter may again have to turn to the Communists as their only ally. Certainly if the Communists take over in Spain, our bases are gone. Again I would like to suggest that the people of this country think over this situation which might bring us, not quite so near our shores, a new Castro.


(Copyright, 1962, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 7, 1962

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.