History of the Cuban Association

Cuba MAPA Amarillo

The Cuban Association was established in Havana, Cuba in 1952 under the leadership of naval captain Alberto de Carricarte y Velázquez as its first president and Monsignor Alfredo Mueller y San Martin, Auxiliary Bishop of Havana, subsequently Cienfuegos, as Conventual Chaplain ad Honorem (see photo). The insipient charitable works of the Order on the island where short lived as a result of the turmoil created by the communist revolution in 1959. At the time, most of the members fled into exile, settling in Spain, the Dominican Republic, and the United States.

 

The knights and dames in the diaspora attempted to live the charisma of the Order within the context of their exile. In the mid-1960s, under the leadership of Don Miguel Alejandro Fernández Rivera y Gómez, Count of Monterrón as President and Dr. Carlos Dobal y Marqués as Chancellor, the Association re-established its headquarters in Madrid, Spain. For the next thirty-five years, D. Miguel and his wife, Doña María del Rosario Aranguren y Palacio, Countess of Monterrón and Marchioness of Garcillán, represented the Cuban Association at all hemispheric and international meetings and congresses of the Order.

 

In the early 1980’s, despite the fact that the Association was based out of Madrid, Spain, charitable works were begun in Miami with the assistance of Don Juan T. O’Naghten y de Arango, Count of Casa Bayona and of Gibacoa+, and Don Fernando García-Chacón y Chacón, Marquis of Salinas, as Vicepresident, under the spiritual guidance of Monsignor Bryan O. Walsh+ (in the photo at left), Conventual Chaplain ad Honorem, the Irish missionary priest to whom more than 14,000 Cuban born youngsters owe their American lives through Operation Pedro Pan. By the late 1990’s, the Association had 25 members dispersed throughout the world and had established a base in Miami, Florida. The current president, the Marquis of Salinas, served as vice-president until the passing of the Count of Monterrón in 2000, at which time he was elected president of the Cuban Association and the headquarters of the Association was transferred officially to Miami, Florida, where remains to this date.

The rebuilding efforts resulted in a significant increase in activities for the Association. Initially, the Association funded the first rehabilitation of the San Juan Bosco Clinic located in one of the poorer parishes in Miami which had a historical connection to the Cuban exile community. The medical clinic which focused its services for the benefit of the undocumented immigrant community and was eventually expanded to include the provision of legal services. The Association’s doctors continue to volunteer at the San Juan Bosco clinic although the clinic has moved to another parish (photo left).

The original site for the San Juan Bosco clinic is currently being used by La Casita de Malta to offer a variety of social services to needy mothers (photo at right).

After the visit of H.H. John Paul II to Cuba, the Association extended its activities to Cuba, funding its first Elderly Assistance Facility at the parish of Sagrado Corazón de Jesús in La Habana in 2000 and incorporating into its structure similar projects which had been previously developed individually by some of its members including the Elderly Assistance Facilities at Santa María del Rosario and San Juan y Martínez. Currently, the Association has over 50 Elderly Assistance Facilities in Cuba which extend through the whole breath of the island. The Association also supports four assistance centers of the Servants of Mary sisters, the Seminary of San Carlos and San Ambrosio, founded in 1689, and a home for retired elderly priests, the only one in Cuba.

Also in the early part of the 21st Century, the Association commenced conducting medical missions in the Caribbean and Central American regions, particularly in the Dominican Republic. The Association’s doctors and volunteers currently conduct two, and sometimes three, missions each year to the ILAC Center at Santiago de los Caballeros in the Dominican Republic. The typical mission will include approximately 15 to 20 doctors, a like number of nurses and other healthcare professionals and 10 to 15 non-medical personnel. Each mission, treats over 1,200 patients over a three day week-end, resulting in over 2,000 patient visits and the delivery of approximately $125,000 worth of medications.

The expertise developed by the Association in the medical missions in the Dominican Republic permitted it to coordinate the initial relief efforts for the Order in response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, establishing a coordination center in Miami and its volunteers arriving on the island within 24 hours of the earthquake.

Currently, the Association counts with approximately 115 knights, dames, donates and chaplains, the majority living in Miami, Florida. With the return of the Association’s activities to Cuba, the Association invested one Chaplain in 2004, and one Knight and a Dame in 2006, who live in La Habana and assist with our operations in Cuba. In 2006, the Association established a Delegation in Puerto Rico which counts with approximately 35 members.
We follow the charisma of the Order of Malta by supporting the poor and the sick with our 58 dining facilities for the elderly in Cuba and six other catholic service institutions, in cooperation with the local Catholic Church, parish priests and Bishops; our works at La Casita de Malta in San Juan Bosco parish and the St. John Bosco clinic at Corpus Christi parish, both in Miami, Florida, and with Medical Missions to the Dominican Republic and Haiti.