14ymedio, Madrid, January 12, 2024 — The Masonic Grand Lodge of Cuba reported at the Zanja police station, in Central Havana, the loss of a sum of 19,000 dollars (more than five million pesos in the informal currency market) which were stolen from the safe of Mario Alberto Urquía Carreño, grand master and co-president of the Board of Trustees of the Masonic Asylum.The money is the donations from the Freemasons to pay salaries to staff and finance the activities of a nursing home. The account of what happened, as read in a statement released by the institution, makes clear the distrust of the Board of Trustees in the Grand Lodge, to whom it had entrusted the care of the money and points, as can be deduced from the content, to an internal theft, since the Grand Master has agreed to assume full responsibility.
Sources close to the institution consulted by CubaNet said that there were no signs of violence or any sign that indicated that the door had been forced.
According to the Board of Trustees, an amount of 21,000 dollars was in their possession, news that began to spread by word of mouth on social networks, generating alarm among its members, who decided to move the money to a safer place considering that La Güinera, where its headquarters is located, has a “population highly prone to commit criminal acts.”
The decision, adopted unanimously, was to leave 2,000 dollars and take the remaining amount to the Grand Master’s office, in the historic building on Carlos III Street. The treasurer of the Board of Trustees, Ernesto Valdés García, and the director of the Asylum, Raúl Acosta, were in charge of the deposit, and they had three witnesses to the delivery operation in which minutes were drawn up and the money counted.
Last October, one of the members of the Board of Trustees asked that its treasurers and those of the Grand Lodge make a monthly count, at which point the Grand Master, upset by the mistrust, told them that the money was “in a safe in his office.”
On 9 January 2024, the Asylum agreed to ask for $1,000 upon realizing its “delicate situation with food,” for which they contacted the Grand Master, notifying him of a visit along with several members of the institution for the withdrawal of the amount.
According to the version of the Board of Trustees, Urquía Carreño argued that the building’s elevator was broken, so he would carry the money himself. However, they rejected the proposal and indicated that the procedure would be as planned.
“The Grand Master accepts, but says that he will call later to inform them of the time they could proceed,” the story continues. Finally, Urquía Carreño and the grand treasurer of the lodge meet with José Ramón Viñas Alonso, the Sovereign Grand Commander and President of the Board of Trustees, to whom they confess that there has been a theft of the money.
“The Sovereign, surprised, exclaims that it is a very serious situation and asks why four days have passed and he has not been informed of this fact, given his hierarchy as Sovereign and as President of the Board of Trustees,” the statement said, adding that the reason given was to avoid worries. The reason, however, also annoys the Board of Trustees, which demands to know if the Police have been informed and receives the answer that they have not, because it could damage the image of Freemasonry.
“The Sovereign, surprised, exclaims that it is a very serious situation and asks why four days have passed and he has not been informed of this fact, given his hierarchy”
“Before the Grand Master leaves, the Sovereign tells him that he has to process all the information, because the facts are extremely serious, and he has to make a determination,” the text states. Once the decision was made to gather the institution, they say, Urquia Carreño asks that it not be done “because that is not in anyone’s interest.”
At the meeting, which was held despite the opposition of the Grand Master, the decision was made to denounce the theft and make a report to to the Freemasons, a decision before which the Grand Master requests “time of silence to be able to replenish the money”, a demand rejected by the Board of Trustees.
“The Grand Master stated that he was responsible for what happened and undertakes to replace the stolen money. Additionally, when the members of the Board of Trustees learn that the Grand Master would soon travel abroad, they recommend that until this situation is resolved, he should not should travel outside the country,” the text adds.
The Sovereign, Viñas Alonso, who is taking this situation very seriously, is in the crosshairs of State Security after sending a letter to Miguel Díaz-Canel in which he offered “his opinion on the call for confrontation between Cubans that he made this when everything was worse,” in reference to the repression that followed the mass protests of 11 July 2021 (’11J), of which he was very critical. From that moment on, the political police tried to get him to recant and even ’regulated’* him to prevent him from going abroad.
*Translator’s note: The Cuban Government has chosen the term ‘regulated’ to refer to those who are forbidden to leave the Island.
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