Types of Freemasons
Throughout Central and South America, both Continental and Anglo-American jurisdictions exist. Continental style Grand Orients, however, are in the majority. In Brazil, for example the largest and oldest Masonic body, the Grande Oriente do Brasil is recognised by Anglo-American jurisdictions.
In many Latin American countries, the split in Masonic obedience has mirrored political divisions. Rivalry between two factions in Mexican Freemasonry, for example, is said to have contributed to the Mexican civil war.
Continental Freemasonry comes from the French Revolution, but it is popular in all Western European countries. It could have come to South America from Spain, for instance. It can be very anti-clerical in nature and its leaders would likely follow the French tradition of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Anglo-American freemasonry was brought to the United States from Great Britain in the 1730s. They believe: "A Mason is oblig'd by his Tenure, to obey the moral Law, and if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist, nor an irreligious Libertine." It's leaders never discuss politics in meetings, while this is a large part of Continental Freemasonry. This makes Anglo-American Freemasory more transparent.
As an extension of the Napoleonic Wars, the British attempted to gain a foothold in South America under the "Maitland Plan." It appears to have even attempted to recruit Freemason revolutionaries for its own purposes, but largely failed due to American interference.
Many of the leaders of the American Revolution were Freemasons. Some of these same leaders, notably Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, were known to be personal contacts with Freemason leaders of the wars of independence in Latin America. For instance, Francisco de Miranda was a key figure in the American and French Revolutions and set the stage for Simon Bolivar, one of the most important figures in the wars against Spain.
Thomas Jefferson and James Madison are considered "possible Freemasons" due to the fact that their Lodges are unknown, but the historical evidence is strong that were indeed part of the society. The official Freemason Grand Lodge in Pennsylvania includes them in their display of Freemason presidents.
James Madison was president of the United States from the years 1809–1817 and help to aid the Latin American revolutionaries against Spain. Joel Robert Poinsett, a Master Freemason, was the first minister to Mexico and served as a "special agent" from 1810 to 1814 to Chile and Argentina under James Madison. He helped in drafting of a constitution.
After a consultation with Carrera, Poinsett accepted a commission into the Chilean army to fight against the Spanish Royalists based in Peru. Poinsett was later given the rank of general in Carrera’s army. He led a charge at the head of the Chilean cavalry in the Battle of San Carlos and secured a victory for Chile. From there, he went with a battery of flying artillery to the Bay of Conception, where ten American vessels had been seized. He arrived at dark near the seaport of Talcahuano, and began firing on the town. At dawn he sent an emissary to demand the surrender of the bay to the Junta of Chile. The Peruvian royalists surrendered on May 29, 1813.
James Monroe was elected following James Madison. He also worked closely with Poinsett and was also a Freemason. Under his presidency, the US officially recognized the new Latin American nations in 1822 and instituted the "Monroe Doctrine" in 1823, as the wars were now nearing their end. Bolivia would be the last nation to gain independence in 1825, excepting Cuba and Puerto Rico.
The occasion has been judged proper for asserting, as a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States are involved, that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers