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Conversations with Allende1
Debray: I've always heard that you've had connections with freemasonry and yet you are a Marxist; you know at one time there was a serious dispute within the international workers' movement. For example, in France in the twenties, the freemasons were expelled from the Communist Party, which was then in its infancy. Do you see a contradiction between your supposed connections with freemasonry and your Marxist position, your class position ?
Allende: First, Régis, let me remind you that the first Secretary Général of the French Communist Party was a freemason.
Debray: Yes, yes ...
Allende: And that it was only by the time of the Third International that incompatibility between the two movements was established.
Debray: Yes.
Allende: Now, from a personal point of view, I have a masonic background. My grandfather, Dr Allende Padin was a Most Serene Grand Master of the Masonic Order in the nineteenth century, when being a freemason meant being involved in a struggle. The Masonic Lodges and the Lautaro Lodges[1] were the corner stone of independence and the struggle against Spain.
Debray: Bolivar and Sucre were freemasons.
Allende: Exactly. So you can understand perfectly well that, with this kind of family tradition, and again, since the masonic movement fought for fundamental principles like Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, one can viably have such connections. Now I have maintained within the masonic movement that there cannot be equality in the capitalist régime, not even equality of opportunity, of course; that there cannot be fraternity while there is class exploitation, and that true liberty is a concrete and not an abstract notion. So you see I interpret the principles of freemasonry according to their true content. Now, I know perfectly well that there are countries where freemasonry could not be considered consistent with these principles.
[endnote 1] The Lautarian Lodges (or Lautaro's Lodges), named after the Araucanian cacique Lautaro — leader of the struggle against the Spanish Conquest in sixteenth-century Chile — were created in Buenos Aires in 1812 by members of the Freemasonry.2 Prominent among them were General José San Martin and Bernardo O'Higgins in Chile, both leaders of the struggle against Spanish colonialism. It is said that while the Army formed the military wing of the liberation movement, Lautaro's Lodges constituted its political wing. This is corroborated, by the fact that San Martin and O'Higgins took pains to create Lodges in the territories newly entered by the Andes Liberation Army. The fundamental aims of the Lodges have been defined as civic indoctrination and the study of the political and social potentialities of the embryonic nation. The relationship between the Lautarian and the Masonic Lodges has been described by an historian as follows: 'Since initiation in the mysteries of freemasonry was obligatory for all affiliates of Lautaro's Lodges, we can affirm that if the objectives of the Lodge were clearly political, their members were equally clearly masonic.' Thus the first masonic lodge in Chile, created on 15 March 1827,3 had its roots in Lautaro's Lodges, and its first Grand Master was Manuel Blanco Encalada who had also been a member of a Lautarian Lodge. The connections between both Lodges are evident in their use of common symbols and rituals and also in the similarity of their functions and activities. The following paragraph from the statutes of Lautaro's Lodge of Chile, written by Bernardo O'Higgins himself, corroborates the above: 'Whenever any of the brothers is elected to the Supreme Government he must not decide anything of great importance without consulting the lodge ...', and, he added, '... by virtue of the objectives of the institution, one of the primary obligations of the brothers will be to assist and protect each other in any civil conflict and support each others' opinion'. Moreover, '... any brother who breaks the secrecy of the lodge's existence, even with a word or sign, will be punishable by death, by the means thought most convenient...'.

1. The Chilean Revolution, Conversations with Allende. Régis Debray. New York : Vintage Books A Division of Random House, 1971. ISBN : 0-394-71726-0. 201 pp. 11 cm. x 18.5 cm. pp. 64-65, endnote pp. 136-37.
2. The online Wikipedia notes that the lodge is "believed to have been founded in 1797 in London by Venezuelan revolutionary Francisco de Miranda. However, recent research suggests that the [Lautaro] Lodge was founded in Cadix, Spain." Ars Quatuor Coronatorum (xciv pp. 102-04.) reports that the Lautaro Lodge was founded by José de San Martín (1778/02/25 - 1850/08/17) and Bernardo O'Higgins (1778/08/20-1842/10/24) shortly after they arrived in Santiago in 1817. O'Higgins was its first President (Master). No lodge records are known to exist but it is claimed that the lodge effectively governed Chile from 1817 to 1820 until San Martín and most leading members left to liberate Peru.
3. La Filantrop’a Chilena (15 March 1827), the first documented masonic lodge in Chile with first Worshipful Master W Bro. Manuel Blanco Encalada who claimed that the 18th degree AASR conferred on him by the Regeneración Rose croiz Chapter of Lima authorized him to establish lodges in Chile. He was later first president of Chile: foundation minutes owned by the Grand Lodge of Chile. Lodge disappeared without a trace, it may have become a secret political club on the lines of the LautaroLodge and the Caballeros Racionales. Ars Quatuor Coronatorum cxi (1998) p. 91. Also see : "It is unnecessary to record the result of the Lodge Lautero, the Lodge Aurora and Chilean philanthropy; also that in our country, the liberal movement of the last century had its origin, in part, in the masonic temples." Chile, the Grand Lodge of Chile, A tribute of the Parliament of The Republic of Chile to (1992) reviewed (Read, etc.) AQC cvi (1993) p. 241.


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