´Civilized´ Conservative in Spain
José María de Areilza
Special to The New York Times
MADRID, Dec. 20 — In Spain there are conservatives who are still fighting the Civil War and there are
conservatives like José María de Areilza who are trying to move the country away from the old
Man in the News
Such animosities die hard, he is finding. Ultra-rightists thwarted his bid to become prime minister in King
Juan Carlos´s first government, so he had to settle for the post of Foreign Minister.
Last week the same unreconstrueted rightists raised a storm of protest when the 66-year-old
Mr. Areilza—the name is pronounced ah-RAIL-tha — told reporters in París that Santiago Carillo, leader
of the Spanish Communist Party, could return from exile unless here was some particular judicial
"He is a Spanish citizen like the others," the Foreign Minister said of the man who had been a leader of
the Republican forces in the bloody conflict that ended 36 years ago.
Although Mr. Areilza is an unabashed monarchist, he consider a himself a member of the "civilized
right." As a result he enjoys the respect of the emerging left and center wings in Spanish politics as a
cautious but democratic reformist.
Writing on the Op Ed page of The New York Times last month, he said: "The Spain of 1975 henceforth
cannot be governed with authoritarian and dictatorial forms and methods. The society would not accept it.
I propose that the necessary process of constitutional reform to convert our country into a modern
democratic state similar in essence to the others in Western Europe be brought about in a legal way and
by the methods that the very laws of the present sys-tem authorize."
In his own career, Mr. Areilza, a courtly, white-haired man, has also been a exemplar of caution and
gradualism. A Basque, he was born on Aug. 3, 1909, at Portugalete, near Bilbao.
He studied engineering and law at the Universities of Bilbao and Salamcenca, traveled through Europe
and learned to speak French and English.
Unsympathetic to both Basque nationalism and the republic, he supported the Nationalist forces of
Gen. Francisco Franco. As a re-ward, at age 28, he was appointed Mayor of Bilbao, the Basque capital,
when it fell in 1937.
Appointed Director General of Industry in General Francos first national government, he was a leader of
the semifascist political movements established by him and became well known as a writer and essayist
on political and historical subjects.
Career as a Diplomat
The victory of the Allies in World War II left Spain, which had rendered at least passive assistance to the
Axis, poor, hungry and isolated, and led to Mr. Areilza´s second career—as a diplomat. In 1947 he was
appointed Ambassador to Argentina, where he negotiated credits for badly needed meat shipments.
In 1954, after five years in private life, he was as-signed to Washington and soon became friendly with
President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It was a period in which the cold war was gradually changing the
United States´s attitude toward Spain. Military bases were being established there and American
investments were starting to flow into the country, which had scarcely begun tp repair the ravages of the
Mr. Areilza´s last diplomatic post was as Ambassador to France, where he served from 1960 to 1964.
Unlike many he was be-coming less conservative with advancing years and more critical of the Franco
regime, both in private and in a book, "Political Writings," and occasional news-paper articles.
He became secretary of the privy council of Don Juan, pretender to the Spanish throne. In 1969, when
Don Juan´s son, Prince Juan Carlos de Borbon, was designated by General Franco as his successor,
Mr. Areilza moved into his camp.
Penalty for Criticism
As Spain zigzagged politically during the final years of General Franco´s rule, Mr. Areilza found himself
in difficulties at least once. In 1970 he was one of about 100 people who signed a letter to Secretary of
State William P. Rogers criticizing the agreement with the United States on military bases that was about
to be renewed. He was fined for this and forced to resign as the president of the Royal Automobile Club.
Mr. Areilza is regarded as one of the three most powerful men in the Government, the others being Prime
Minister Carlos Arias Navarro, whom Juan Carlos found himself unable to replace, and Manuel Fraga
Iribarne, the new Minister of the Interior.
Although Mr. Areilza no longer opposes American bases, he is expected to try to get a higher rental for
them in military aid. He is aware of the strength of the military establishment and hopes to keep it on the
side of political evolution. While he opposes the Communist party, he believes that in time it, too, must
be part of the new Spain.
Mr. Areilza, whose mother was the Countess de Rodas, became the Count of Montrico by his marriage to
the Countess, Mercedes de Churruca. They have three sons and two daughters. His wife´s inherited wealth
has been augmented by his own industrial and banking activities.