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:

Silvia E Gamoneda Casademunt

General Information
Current Name
Silvia Gamoneda Gimenez
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Silvia E Gamoneda Casademunt
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Friday, August 4, 1961
Relocated To

Silvia E's Story

I arrived on August 4, 1961 and stayed in Kendall for a couple of weeks. One of my mother's sisters lived in Miami since 1954 and my brother was already living with her. She took me out & I stayed w...

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Mi Pedro Pan favorita. How are you??? I have been looking for you for a while. You look good as always. Besitos your favorite Pedro Pan; Bertica.

Message by Berta Ayo | Jul 22nd 2013

Silvia E has updated their profile.

Status update | Jan 23rd 2011

Hello Silvia The world is small!!!! After working for many years together at Florida Power and Light we found out we had been together in Kindergarten In Ciego de Avila's Escuela Teresiana. Your uncle was one of my father's best friends at Crusellas y Co. en Cuba. Now after all these years I find out that we are also Pedro Pan sisters. What a small world. Your grandchild is beautiful. I wish you the best to you and your family. With all my love Idania Idania

Message by Idania Pazos Garcia | Oct 7th 2009

Hi Silvita - you may not remember me as you were a year ahead of me at Sagrado Corazon. My name is Lucy Alonso. Let me hear from you. Lucy

Message by Lucy Alonso Rivero | Jul 30th 2009

Hola amiguita.. yo te quiero mucho.. aunque no aparezca en la lista de Pedro Pan, pero tu fuistes el alma que calmo mi llanto esa triste noche que llegue a Kendall y mi catre estaba al lado tuyo

Message by Rita Rodriguez- Pardinas | Jul 7th 2009

Thanks for always being an inspiration to all of us. We love you! Your children :0)

Message by Sol | Jun 23rd 2009

Hola Silvia, hace años que no nos comunicamos. Nosotros muy bien. Saludos a tu familia.

Message by Gladys Oliva Stolz | Jun 9th 2009

Silvita, you were one of my first dear Pedro Pan friends, from way back in the late 80s. God bless you and Willy! Eloisa

Message by Eloísa Echazábal | Jun 5th 2009

To my other mother who I admire so much and gives me so much support, Thank you for always being the guiding light for your family, for being the glue that holds things together, and for always being a positive force in our lives. You are an amazing person and dear loved one. Te quiero. Thank God for Pedro Pan allowing you to come to America. Besos...y no voy a llorar Willy! Love Vicky

Message by Victoria Mendez | Jun 4th 2009

Silva, gracias por tu mensaje, anoche cuando vi a Willi,le pregunta que si te habias registrado, el me dijo que creia que si. saludos,

Message by Paco Echeverria | Jun 4th 2009

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