Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Freemasons in Cuba: New Scholarship

Freemasonry has a long history in Cuba.  Since 2005, outsiders have noticed a resurgence of membership in and the activities of  freemasonry in Cuba.
Widely popular before the 1959 revolution, Cuba's Masons suffered a precipitous decline in ensuing decades, but the group has since recovered its appeal, as some Cubans look for an alternative to the uniformity inherent in the nation's one-party system.
Membership in the all-male group has soared from about 21,000 here in 1990 to nearly 30,000, even as the number of Masons and other fraternal group members in the United States and elsewhere declined during the same period.
United by a belief in a supreme being and a strict code of moral conduct, Cuba's Masons, like the island's Roman Catholic Church, managed to carve out a limited and precarious autonomy by carefully avoiding open confrontation with Cuban authorities.
Gary Marx, Masons Gain Tenuous Foothold in Cuba,  Chicago Tribune, April 24, 2005.  Ironically, Freemasonry appears to continue to serve the singular purpose for which it has incurred a substantial amount of suspicion among other groups and elites eager to control the nature and content of belief--even in Cuba where, before the Revolution, Freemasonry was both popular and held in great suspicion by the conventional social and religious elite.  See, e.g., Warren H. Murphy, A History of Freemasonry in Cuba, Walter F. Meir Lodge of Research No. 281, Vol. 4, (1974).   One gets a sense of the continuing unease about freemasonry among  important cultural and religious actors by a careful read of the entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia on freemasonry.

All of this by way of prologue.  My colleague, Jorge Romeu,  has announced the circulation of three new works on freemasonry in Cuba.     

Les informamos que el Analisis Demografico de la Masoneria Cubana, en la segunda mitad del Siglo XX, realizado para su presentacion en la Gran Logia de Cuba con datos suministrados por esta, y que aparecera en sus publicaciones a finales del verano, se encuentra en la red.  [noting the availability of "Demographic Analysis of Cuban Masonry, in the second half of the twentieth century," which was presented in the Grand Lodge of Cuba, online.]

Comunicamos que el borrador final para comentarios, del trabajo sobre La Masoneria Cubana y su Contribucion a la Sociedad Civil, a presentarse en la 20 Conferencia Anual de ASCE (Asociacion para el Estudio de la Economia Cubana) en Miami, en Julio proximo, se encuentra en la red. [reporting that the final draft for comment of the work Freemasonry and its contribution to Cuban Civil Society, to be presented at the 20th Annual Conference of ASCE (Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy) in Miami in July, is on line.]

Por ultimo, el borrador final para comentarios, del trabajo Una Mirada Alternativa de la Sociedad Civil en Cuba, basado en la revision critica de esta literatura y realizada para apoyar las tesis del trabajo sobre la Masoneria en Cuba, tambien esta en la red. [Lastly, noting that the final draft  of the Work, An Alternative Look  at Civil Society in Cuba, based on a critical revision of the standard literature and testing the tesis of the role of freemasonry in Cuba, is also available online].

The Cuban Revolution has produced a substantial amount of irony.  In its relationship with freemasonry, perhaps one can see the development of another.  Consider Christopher Hodapp, Masonic Conflicts in Cuba, Freemasons for Dummies, May 29, 2010. 

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