JANUARY 29, 1962

Roxana Valladares Hart


I was only 9 years old, but remember that day as if it was today. We left very early one unusually cool morning on January 29, 1962. It was dark and we were supposed to meet with my father, Capitan Eduardo Valladares at the airport. My mother (Roxana), brother (Angel Eduardo) and I piled along with my grandparents in a car. I don't remember much of the ride; but I can't seem to erase the image of all of my grandparents staring and crying from inside a glassed room. We three sat essentially motion less in a large waiting room as we waited for my father to join us. Later I was told that the glassed room was called "la pesera" where loved ones and relatives were allowed to say goodbye to those fleeing the island. Now it was time to board and all of our belongings were being rifled through by men dressed in green outfits. When they finished "looking" through the entire "luggage" I was told I could only bring my little doll not my big baby doll. My mother became upset that her neatly packed duffle bags were now just piles of clothing stuffed into each of the "gusanos." The luggage was called that because those people fleeing their homeland during this period of time were considered to be cowardly "gusanos." The "gusanos" also had a weight restriction and if it went over you were not allowed to bring it with you at all. Soon as we began our walk up the stairs of the plane, my father joined us and for the first time since we had left our home; my mother seemed calm. Once the plane took off and we were in the air the entire plane erupted in the Cuban National Anthem. Some sang through sobs, others just cried and still some simply sat numb. I sat with my mother and my brother sat across the aisle with my father. Who I thought seemed to be singing (off key) the loudest. My mother encouraged us to sing, because she said it would be the last time we would sing our anthem over Cuban skies.

Roxana Valladares Hart

Read more Freedom Flight Memories stories from the Miami Herald

  • JUNE 7th, 1967

    Ana De Los Reyes

    First of all, I would like to thank you for your great efforts in compiling the Freedom Flights date base information. It was with great emotion that I looked up my father's arrival to freedom information.

  • JULY 24 1968

    Miriam Rodriguez

    We arrive on July 24 1968, I remember as soon we were in the plane we heard a welcome from Pres. Johnson, as we arrive in Miami there were a priest & minister to welcome as I will never will forget that day.

  • NOVEMBER 27, 1967

    Ana Marķa Florin

    It was November 27, 1967 when my mother ( now 83 years old), my father (now deceased) and I came to the United states via the Freedom Flight. We planned to come earlier, but the Bay of Pigs invasion delayed our plans since all flights were put on halt.

Miami Herald

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