Question: Can You Help with Contacting Masons in Cuba?
Answer: (Note this is an updated version of the answer from May 9, 2011)
Freemasonry exists throughout the world and today numbers approximately six million members. In December 2009, the Gran Logia de Cuba (Grand Lodge of Cuba) celebrated its 150th Anniversary. As a “regular” Masonic Lodge, the Gran Logia de Cuba has an international convention (charter) with the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE). (An “irregular” lodge does not have this convention.) Each Grand Lodge, however, is sovereign and independent. There is no international governing body for Freemasonry.
The Gran Logia de Cuba is based in the 11-story Gran Templo Nacional Masónico, located near a bustling Havana intersection. Constructed in 1954, this building is identified by its stepped, tapering tower crowned by a globe which supports the international symbols of masonry – a large compass and a square, representing virtue and moral rectitude respectively. The Gran Logia de Cuba, which is the order’s governing body, practices both Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rites, as well as the York Rite. In the Gran Templo Nacional Masónico, various Masonic groups hold their rituals in its halls. In addition, the building houses a Masonic parliament, study centres and a supreme court for dealing with administrative or character transgressions of members.
To visit the Gran Logia de Cuba or any of its member Lodges elsewhere in the country, one must abide by UGLE regulations for having such contact. These regulations – which can be found in the document entitled “Information for the Guidance of Members of the Craft” (2009), located in the UGLE website at www.ugle.org.uk – stipulate that no Visitor shall be received into a Lodge without due examination, including producing proper Vouchers of their having been initiated in a regular Lodge. In Cuba, this examination is done by the Gran Logia de Cuba in Havana.
In a May 2011 phone consultation with the Gran Logia de Cuba, they explained that prospective visitors must contact their office either by phone or in person. (They do not have an email address.) The individual to contact is the Gran Secretario (Grand Secretary), Alberto William Rojas Aguilar, at Telephone (537) 878-5065, Monday through Friday, after 3pm. Although he speaks only Spanish, the Gran Logia has excellent translators (José Luis) who can help, including with phone calls. The Gran Logia now has an email (see below) through which queries can also be made.
The way it works is this: The Gran Secretario evaluates the required documents from potential visitors, and then passes the decision on to the Gran Maestro (Grand Master). If approved, the Gran Maestro informs the provincial Masonic body that a visit will be taking place.
The address and general phone numbers of the Gran Logia de Cuba are the following:
Gran Templo Nacional Masonico
Ave. Salvador Allende No. 508, 11th Floor
Esquina Belascoain (Esquina = Corner)
Municipio Centro Habana
Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba
Telephone (537) 874-1506 (secretary’s office) or (537) 878-1071 (library)
Email [email protected]
In Cuba, Freemasonry was first founded in 1859. Although membership declined after 1959, when the revolution led by Fidel Castro triumphed, since 1990 the number of members has grown by almost a third. Today, some 30,000 Freemasons are found around the country in more than 340 Lodges. Since 1993, new lodges have been inaugurated with approval from the Cuban government.
In Cuba as elsewhere in the world, Freemasons encourage principles of liberty, equality, fraternity and morality while keeping both politics and religions outside the lodge. However, neither political activism nor belonging to other social organizations bar an individual from becoming a member. Cuba’s Masons claim some of the island’s most revered sons as their own, including independence heroes Antonio Maceo, Maximo Gómez and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, the latter considered the father of the Cuban nation. They join other famous Latin American Masons such as Simón Bolivar, Dom Pedro I of Brazil, Benito Juárez of Mexico, and the Socialist President of Chile, Salvador Allende.
Beginning in 2005, a group of women began the process to found a Women’s Masonic Lodge in Cuba, receiving assistance in this endeavour from the Gran Logia Femenina de Chile (Women’s Grand Lodge of Chile). In 2008, the first Cuban women were formally initiated into Freemasonry in both Havana and Pinar del Río, and plans began for creating a third women’s lodge elsewhere in the country.
Among the over 30 women who joined Cuba’s first two women’s lodges, the age span went from 18 to over 60, and consisted of doctors, teachers, technicians of various specialties, musicians, singers, psychologists, homemakers and university students. In forming a Women’s Masonic Lodge, Cuban Freemasonry joins the ranks of similar initiatives in countries such as France, Belgium, Spain, the United Kingdom, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay, etc.