Cuban immigrants share precious family heirlooms to show history of Cuban exiles by Janey Fugate Julia Adán Pelegrín, 71, opened a black suitcase full of faded elegant shirts. Those shirts, she explained, belonged to her father, Emilio Adán Silva, when he was a Supreme Court justice in Cuba, and they represented his life before he and 12 other justices signed a letter denouncing Fidel Castro’s government. Eight years later, his family moved to Miami. Those shirts, Pelegrín says, represent the sacrifice her father made for his family and express the pride she feels. “These are not only memories but items of everyday use when Cuba existed as a nation,” Adán said. “[These shirts] were on the streets of Havana. They lived there.” Such feelings of pride and nostalgia prevailed Saturday in the lobby of the Freedom Tower, when dozens of Cubans gathered to donate or lend objects of historic interest that document their exile experience. More than 300 items — passports, documents, photos, clothes — will be part of an exhibit that will open at the tower in September. The inauguration of the exhibit is a key step in the preservation of Cuban history, said Alina Interián, host of the event and executive director of Miami Dade College cultural affairs. “We want to pay tribute to the people to whom this tower means so much,” said Interián, who also was processed at the Freedom Tower when she arrived from Cuba. Between 1962 and 1974, Cuban refugees were processed at the tower, known as “The Refuge.” It was added to the United States National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 2008. The exhibit, titled “The Exile Experience: Journey to Freedom,” is a collaboration between Miami Dade College and the Miami Herald Media Company. Its objective is to document, preserve and share the history of the difficulties the exiled Cuban community went through since Fidel Castro’s rise to power. The facility has deserved a project like this for some time, said Luisa Meruelo, 93, who worked for the tower’s immigration service for nine years. “I was always wondering why no one had done something about the refugees here,” Meruelo said. “This is a long story, a beautiful story.” The exhibit is a way to thank the nation that gave them refuge during that turbulent time, she said. “We have to thank the people of the United States for being so generous to us at a very difficult time,” she said. Now, the museum can show items like the first coins earned in this country, the tie that an immigrant was wearing when he arrived, a wedding gown and the tiny dress of a 3-year-old. To the people who wore them, these items are intimately associated with the difficult experience of having to abandon their native country. One of those people was Mercy Advocat, who arrived in 1962 with her brother in the Pedro Pan Operation. That exodus took place between 1960 and 1962 and brought more than 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban children to the United States. “The last thing our parents told us before leaving was that my brother and I should never be separated,” Advocat said. “We then boarded the plane and, when we landed, the first thing they did was separate us — the girls from the boys.” Advocat and her brother eventually were sent to the same foster home in Albuquerque, N.M., and they ended doing what their parents had told them. After two years, they were reunited with their mother in New York. The black-and-white photos Advocat brought to the tower show her mother’s tears when she reunited with her children. She is lending those photos and a doll brought from Cuba — some of her most precious keepsakes — to the museum. She is not ready to part with them yet. “I’m not so old to have to donate them,” she said. © 2014 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved. Read more here:

Arsenio Hernandez Cuervo- Arango

General Information
Current Name
Arsenio Hernandez Cuervo- Arango
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Arsenio Hernandez Cuervo- Arango
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Wednesday, September 5, 1962
Relocated To
Merlin, Oregon
Stayed With
w/family friend Fernando Chavez in Miami, then w/aunt in Oregon

Arsenio's Story

Después de haber pasado unos dias en Miami, puse pie dentro de un Greyhound Bus con destino a Medford, Oregon. Cinco dias mas tarde en un viaje lleno de inesperados eventos, siendo una temprana llega...

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Arsenio's News Feed

Leave a public message for Arsenio.

Hola Arsenio, Yo soy otra Yolanda aunque aqui soy Adrianne Miller. Mi amiga Yolanda Cardenas Ganong me dijo que me pusiera en contacto contigo. Vivo en Newberg, OR. No se donde esta Merlin pero vivi siete años en Klamath Falls y siempre ibamos al shopping center de Medford. Me encantaria conocerte. Yo vine en marzo del 62 a los 14 años. Soy psicologa y escritora, fui maestra de primaria y profesora de college de Sociology, Human Development y Organizational Business. Casada hace 23 años con mi segundo esposo. Tres hijos, tres hijastros y 6 nietos, todos jimaguas! Welcome to the site! Yolie Adrianne)

Message by Adrianne Miller | Jan 7th 2010

Arsenio, te escribo otra vez para decirte en secreto que tengas mucha cautela cuando Susy quiera venderte algo. Si te descuidas es capaz de quedarse con todos tus billetes de $3 y no vas a ver ni un pinito de la propiedad en medio del Atlántico. Que ella no se entere de que yo te he soplado esto, ok? Bueno, quedas advertido. yo

Message by Yolanda Cardenas Ganong | Jan 7th 2010

Great! I'm currently appraising the property...I'll get back to you!

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Jan 7th 2010

Arsenio: As you venture thru here, you'll find that we are really becoming one big family and we know who has what children, the names of wives/husbands and grandchildren. And if you are going thru a difficult time, most of us show concern so I think you will find it almost addictive to check regularly the going ons of the website. But first let me assure you that I'm the most quiet of all...(and if you believe that, I have a little piece of land in the middle of the Atlantic I can sell you) ha ha....we joke around a lot too. Talk to you soon!!!

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Jan 7th 2010

¡Bienvenido, Arsenio! Me imagino tu jornada hacia Oregon y tu llegada allí tan recién salido de nuestra Cuba tropical. Somos colegas. Yo tambien me dediqué a enseñar y fui maestra de español y de inglés mientras mis hijos estaban en la escuela. Felicitaciones por tu exitosa vida profesional y privada. Espero que encuentres muchos amigos viejos y nuevos en este website, donde todos seguimos siendo niños de alguna manera. Me imagino que tienes muchos cuentos que contar y a nosotros nos encantan los cuentos. Yoli

Message by Yolanda Cardenas Ganong | Jan 7th 2010

Hola Arsenio, bienvenido a nuestro website! Como educador que has sido y sigues siendo, sabes lo importante de haber tenido la oportunidad de haber podido estudiar, a pesar de todos los trabajos. Estoy seguro que habras influido en tus alumnos con tu ejemplo. Gracias por compartir tu historia y si vienes por Miami, ven a alguno de nuestros reuniones, es muy gratificante y la conexion es instantanea con los otros hermanos/as pedro pan. Un abrazo

Message by Carmencita Romanach | Jan 5th 2010

Arsenio: Welcome to our website. I hope you'll enjoy reading the stories and making connections with all the other Pedro Pan brothers and sisters. We would enjoy meeting you and your family when and if you post pictures here.

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Jan 5th 2010

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