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Caribbean Unity

The Dream of Antillean Confederation: Masonic Ideals and Caribbean Unity

Betances Mason Haiti
Ramón Emeterio Betances in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Around 1872 in the city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in a Masonic lodge of this city, a Puerto Rican intellectual gave the following speech: “Let us unite, let us love each other, let us all form one people, a people of true Masons. And then we will be able to raise a temple on such solid foundations that all the forces of the Saxon and Spanish races combined will not be able to shake it; a temple that we will dedicate to independence and on whose facade we will engrave this imperishable inscription: ‘As enduring as the homeland, the Antilles for the Antilleans’.”

3 thinkers

This is the story of a dream. A dream of several intellectuals, leaders, and warriors from the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Haiti; a dream of resistance against imperialism, of fraternity among peoples, and of the vision of a free and united Caribbean under Masonic ideals. And it all began with an interesting idea from Gregorio Luperón: the Dominican-Haitian union.

Gregorio Luperón
Gregorio Luperón
Caribbean Slavery

However, to fully understand this, let’s first examine the situation in the Caribbean in the 1860s. The region was in a state of political, social, and racial ferment, influenced by two main ideologies: one advocating for slavery as good and necessary, and the other condemning slavery as evil and calling for its eradication.

While many Caribbean countries were grappling with this issue, Haiti and the Dominican Republic stood out as they had already abolished slavery. Despite this, both nations faced internal tensions and the constant threat of foreign intervention. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico and Cuba remained under Spanish colonial rule, where slavery still persisted, though there were emerging independence movements.

Monroe Doctrine
Monroe Doctrine

From the north, however, a new enemy loomed: the United States. For many Antilleans, the threat of a new empire just miles from their shores represented a real danger that could not be ignored. The Monroe Doctrine of 1823, asserting American dominance in the Western Hemisphere, further heightened these concerns. Antillean thinkers were fully aware that if the United States desired, they could dominate the Caribbean, perpetuating slavery and poverty for their own benefit.

Faced with this scenario, many thinkers of the time saw only one possible solution: a union of Antillean nations. This idea didn’t arise spontaneously from one mind; several thinkers had concluded that unity meant strength. Gregorio Luperón, a Dominican leader, emerged as a key figure in advocating for a Dominican-Haitian confederation, while Ramón Emeterio Betances, a Puerto Rican patriot, envisioned a broader confederation including Puerto Rico and Cuba.

They were joined by Eugenio María de Hostos of Puerto Rico, Anténor Firmin of Haiti, José Martí of Cuba, among others, forming the intellectual and political foundation of Antilleanis


These figures, united by Masonic ideals of brotherhood and unity, envisioned a confederation where each nation maintained its sovereignty but collaborated on key issues like defense, foreign policy, trade, and education. Although the dream of Antillean confederation faced obstacles such as historical distrust between nations and the expansionist ambitions of the United States, it persisted as a beacon of hope for a united and free Caribbean.

Despite its ultimate failure to materialize, the dream of Antillean confederation has left a lasting legacy. Modern efforts at regional cooperation, such as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization of American States (OAS), can be seen as spiritual successors to the Antillean confederation. The idea of a united Caribbean continues to be debated by modern thinkers, with the Antillean dream serving as a potential solution to the region’s challenges.

In conclusion, while the confederation may not have come to fruition, the dream of Antillean unity inspired by Masonic ideals continues to resonate in the Caribbean. It remains a testament to the power of fraternity, equality, and liberty in shaping the region’s history and aspirations.

United States of Caribbean