Relations with Cuba

The Sovereign Order of Malta in Cuba

The Order of Malta has been present in Cuba since the time of the Captaincy General of Cuba, when the island was part of Spain’s overseas territories.

Captains General of the Order of Malta held command positions on the Island from the end of the 17th century to the end of the 19th century. After Cuba gained independence from Spain, the Order of Malta once again began a diplomatic approach to the island’s authorities during the years after World War II, culminating in 1949 with the appointment of a special delegate, D. Francisco Javier de Santa Cruz y Mallen, Count of San Juan de Jaruco, who was given the mission of achieving recognition of the Order of Malta by the Republic of Cuba.

In 1952, the Cuban Association of the Order of Malta was established. Alberto de Carricarte y Velázquez, the first president of the Cuban Association, was appointed as official Delegate to the Cuban Government. Mutual recognition of Cuba and the Order of Malta was achieved in 1959, and bilateral diplomatic relations were formalised in April 1960, with the exchange of ambassadors. Don Jose Ruiz Velasco, Ambassador of Cuba to the Holy See, became the first ambassador of the Republic of Cuba accredited to the Sovereign Order of Malta in Rome.

In the following years, the Order of Malta developed numerous humanitarian projects in Cuba. In the 1990s, the Order of Malta’s assistance increased, with the creation of the Cuban Task Force by the Federal Association of the United States, through which hundreds of tons of food, medicines and medical equipment were sent to Cuba up until the early 2000s. This aid was channeled through the Cuban Catholic Church and the Caritas Cuba organisation.

In 1998, following the visit of Pope John Paul II to Cuba, an official state visit of Order of Malta to Cuba took place. The Grand Master of the Order at that time, Fra’ Andrew Bertie, the Grand Chancellor and the Grand Hospitaller were received by President Fidel Castro and the highest authorities of the island.

During over 60 years of bilateral diplomatic relations between the Republic of Cuba and the Sovereign Order of Malta, relations have always been maintained in a practical and effective manner. The Sovereign Order of Malta maintains its cooperation programs through the Order’s Embassy in Havana, while the Order’s Cuban Association collaborates with social assistance programs, primarily in partnership with the island’s Catholic Church, with a particular focus on programs for the benefit of Cuba’s elderly citizens.

For projects and activities of the Order of Malta in Cuba: (Order of Malta Cuban Association)