článek z Strategic Culture Foundation
Modern freemasonry: view from Latin America
In 1980-1990ss many masonic lodges in Latin America were on the brink of personnel crisis. The average age of ‚brothers‘ reached the critical 50-60 years, while recruiting of young members failed to compensate for the natural attrition of veterans in various organizations and Freemason groups. The youth was no longer attracted by the veil of mystery surrounding the international masonic groups. Then it was high time for the masonic patriarchs to take urgent measures to turn the tide and not remain on the sideline of globalization without the inflow of new members.
In samizdat publications masonic analysts wrote: “The world is changing, the iron curtain has fallen, the Soviet bloc collapsed, and now, amid the crisis of the Marxist ideology and discredited socialistic practice, we are witnessing new, even more favorable prospects for our work. Globalization gives impulse to a new level of knowledge, pure flight of thought and constructive efforts. Only we, the masons, can fill the ideological vacuum in the East”. I was told practically the same thing about masons and their plans in May of 1996 by Marino Pizarro Pizarro, the then head of the Great Lodge in Chile. I was preparing a report for a magazine about Chile and could not but write about freemasonry in that country, the most influential in Latin America.
I did not expect Pizarro to tel me something new about the shadow side of masonic lodges. But to visit the heart of the Great Lodge, Gran Maestro cabinet- this is what did make sense at least to learn how they viewed the events in Russia. And that was the first thing Pizarro mentioned in his speech. Proud of the achievements of his European colleagues, he said: “With support of the French Great Lodge, the Russian masons opened churches in Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Voronezh and a few more cities, and that was only the beginning. After decades of totalitarianism, the new democratic Russia was receptive to masonic ideas, and we all were optimistic about it”.
Relying on the traditional scenario of meetings with the newcomers, Gran Maestro brought me up-to-date on contemporary masonry. The lodge aims to mould a generation of perfect people who then would build up the society of superior justice, the one which meets the ‚masonic ideas of humanism and progress”. When asked about the deadlines, Gran Maestro answered without hesitation that it would take 2-3 millennia to build such a society. If he said “within twenty years”, I would not have believed him. But he sounded convincing. In September of 1988 the Great Chilean Lodge established La Republica university, its charter relying on ‚masonic principles‘ and the academic activity aimed at “preservation and development of culture, science and professional improvement”. It is not obligatory for students or post-graduates to be members of the Lodge but it is for the professors. However, not only La Republica but also all other universities in Chile can help in recruiting new members. Candidates are being looked for among scientists and businessmen architects, state officials, journalists, military men and, of course, politicians.
If before the disciples were recruited secretly, today masons have all possible means at their disposal. Practically on all masonic website in Latin America there are instructions to potential candidates. First, he must familiarize himself with the literature providing a positive image of masons. He is warned against trusting any sources saying that the Lodge is a state-run influential organization dealing with astrology and occultism which can cause panic in the society. An applicant must be aware that “membership in the Lodge does not guarantee him a prestigious job or access to the highest mysteries”. He is also demanded to keep secrets and not betray friends by speaking out what he learns at masonic sessions.
If an applicant thinks he meets all the requirements, he should find the nearest lodge to go through a preliminary interview. If he manages to make good impression, he`ll have to provide a whole package of documents, including ID, education certificate, photos, e.t.c…
Despite a very thorough process of recruiting, the masonic lodges are easy for secret special agents to get into. CIA, Mossad, Mi6 and other agencies have been using the Order to collect data, launch propaganda and enlisting campaigns. As a rule, the leading international organizations also comprise members of the masonic lodges who are thoroughly protected. I`d like to mention that the team of the prominent Soviet spy Joseph Grigulevich (“Arthur”), who worked in South America in 1940-1947, comprised at least 20 masonic agents of Uruguayan, Argentinian, Brazil, Venezuelan and Chilean origin. One of them- Victor P..- was one of the Great Lodge leaders and ran for the Gran Maestro post.
Freemasonry had always been associated with secrets, mysteries and suggestive reticence. Obviously, if there are secrets, there are unattractive deeds. However, in recent years Freemasons in Latin America and Spain have launched the campaign for new interpretations of the word masoneria in the dictionary of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language where it had always been explained as a secret Order. “This definition is outdated”, the freemasons said. The Academy promised to exclude ‚secret organization‘ from next editions of the dictionary.
From Gran Maestro`s explanations I understood that since the beginning of the 20th century the masonic lodges had provided personnel for the state authorities in Chile. “And this is how it`ll always be!”, he said.
Freemasonry is said to be brotherhood which cannot be broken under any circumstances. However, in Chile`s newest history there was a tragic split among the ‚brothers‘. After the state coup on 11 September 1973 the brotherhood split into three parts: the first group kept neutral position, the second supported President Salvador Alliende, a Socialist and active freemason, while the rest spoke out their support of Augusto Pinochet, also a freemason though far less active. Many Alliende supporters were repressed and ousted from the country, others contributed to the establishment of bloody dictatorship. The Great Lodge leaders still abstain from giving any assessment to the tactics used by the ‚brothers‘ under Pinochet, saying ‚this is not the right time for such things‘.
There are especially many ‚brothers‘ in the country`s law-enforcement agencies: in judicial system, among carabiners and in special task services. A scandal with high-profile freemason member Nelson Meri, who had run the Chilean criminal police until 2003 and had been on familiar terms with the left-centered “Consent” parliamentary bloc, demonstrated this in full that to belong to a freemason lodge does not always give you a ‚high quality‘ (probidad) able. Odetta Alegria, a former left-wing activist, appeared in one of TV programs. Shortly after the state coup she was arrested and tortured in artillerist schools in the town of Linares. She named Nelson Meri, then a junior detective in the police, among those who tortured her most. But Meri denied all allegations, issued a counter-claim and, supported by experienced lawyers, won the case. Odetta was fined $5,000 and sentenced to 2 months in prison. The verdict was brought by Lamberto Sisternas, who had been ranked among freemason brothers from the very beginning of the hearings. High-profile freemasons must help each other and there are no moral or other kind of obstacles to this. However, nobody doubted Meri`s guilt, and he had to resign.
Though the Great Lodge leaders insist the ‚brothers‘ do not deal with politics, freemasonry has long got politicized. Each country of Latin America has its own peculiarities here but in today`s freemasonry right-wing conservative tendencies prevail. The majority of freemasons in Honduras supported the coup organized by R. Micheletti. In Panama they actively supported R. Martinelli believing him to be strong critic of Hugo Chavez. In Colombia ‚brothers‘ are mainly retrogrades using democracy to shelter the dictatorship of oligarchs. In Venezuela freemasons have been split until recently as two groups sought leadership and control over masonic churches. President Hugo Chavez, reformer and revolutionist, has been trying to implement the ideas of great Latin American freemasons- Francisco Miranda and Simon Bolivar but modern freemasons in Venezuela mainly prefer to straddle the fence. The lodges are attended by members of the opposition who had run the Fourth republic but found themselves on the sidelines in the Fifth. What is remarkable is that in Cuba freemasonry is not prohibited, their church in Havana is open to everyone. Cuban masons take active part in iberoamerican freemason forums and demonstrate solidarity with its revolutionary government.
The Inter-American freemasonry confederation, which comprises 62 Great Lodges (U.S. and Canada excluded), has been holding its sessions since 1947. The latest 21st forum took place in April in Colombia. Rafael Camerano Fuentes, Director of the Academy for Freemasonry Research, delivered a report on human rights protection, social inequality and violence. He could not, of course, help but mention the motto of the Order: Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood. However, the audience heard nothing about the reprisals carried out by the Uribe government and U.S. plans to deploy its seven bases in Colombia. The explanation is simple: “masons do not bother with politics”.
But there is also another explanation: the ruling coalition of the Latin American ‚brothers‘ (except Cubans) are involved in Western political system and provide overwhelming support to the United States – this “great masonic superpower”.