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:

Maria del Carmen Valdivia Martinez

General Information
Current Name
Carmen Valdivia
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Maria del Carmen Valdivia Martinez
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Wednesday, August 8, 1962
Relocated To
CWB Florida City
Stayed With
Casa Suarez
Haiti Pedro Pan
Maria del Carmen has volunteered to help the children of Haiti. Find out how you can help, too.

Maria del Carmen's Story

Florida Heritage Landmark Dedication Ceremony, Historical Reference

By Carmen Valdivia,

OPPG Historic Committee Chairperson

OPPG Board of Directors

Florida City Alumni

The state of Florida ha...

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Maria del Carmen, mi mas sentido pesame para ti y tu familia. Se nos ha ido una gran persona. Que Dios lo tenga en la gloria.

Message by Marcos F. Pinedo | May 28th 2012

Hola Carmen, Soy Hector, nos conocimos en la casa de Miguel en la fiesta de el Pedro Pan Grupo de Sacred Heart Home en Colorado. Me dio pena que no tuve mucho tiempo para hablar contigo Pero habian tantos amigos que no habia visto hace mucho años. Voy a ver si puedo copiar las fotos y los escritos de el libro que lleve para que todos vieran. Te los mando cuando lo acabe. Fue un placer conocerte, quizas podemos conversar otra vez.

Message by Hector Diaz Perez | Apr 3rd 2012

Ola Carmen, solo unas lineas para saber de ti como estas?. Estoy tratando de ir para Abril, me da mucha pena no poder estar con uds. en el picnic pero me es deficil ir en este mes asi que si Dios quire nos veremos en el desayudo de Abril, un beso. Tete

Message by Maria T Extremera Hernandez de Armas | Mar 15th 2012

Maria del Carmen has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Jan 6th 2012

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, peace on earth, goodwill to men.

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Dec 24th 2011

Maria del Carmen has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Dec 24th 2011

Hi, Carmen My mom's last name was Valdivia she went to catholic school in Cuba. She past on when I was 6 months old. I am always in search of those who may have none her/relatives. Her name was Maria Petronila Valdia. Did you ever meet her or know of her?

Message by Maria Averhoff | Nov 18th 2011

Carmen have a happy thanksgiving with your family. bye Fernando

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Nov 18th 2011

Carmen, buenos dias, aqui te saluda Billy Espinosa. Quisiera pedirte un favor, le escribi por este portal a tu primo Rafael Quintero Valdivia quien fue companero mio en La Salle pero nunca me contesto, si te es posible ponerte en contacto con el y decirle que lea mi mensaje para conversar con el te lo agradeceria mucho. Cuando yo me hice miembro de PP Rafael enseguida me escribio pero por medio de este portal asi que no tengo su correo. Tambien espero tener el gusto de conocerte pues creo que tenemos a varios amigos mutuos , yo estare paticipando en la reunion PP en Noviembre, estare en la mesa de Emy Botet de New Orleans/Georgia. Recibe un cordial saludo de un hermano Pedro Pan. Billy Espinosa

Message by Billy Espinosa | Oct 31st 2011

Gazeta oficial: Recordando la ausencia de los notables señores Guillermo R. Paz y Melvin F. Noriega Octubre 10, 2011. "GRITO DE YARA" Hoy, se cumple medio siglo de la partida a los Estados Unidos, de dos luminarias cubanas. Todos los diarios de la isla coinciden, cuando expresan su dolor ante tan irreparable perdida. En vez de estar engalanada y feliz por la celebracion de tan importante dia que es "El Grito de Yara", la patria se encuentra triste y enlutada. A continuacion citamos el articulo que aparece hoy, como gran titular en el matutino del periodico "EL PAIS" ......... " Cuba recuerda con tristeza la perdida de dos queridos cubanitos". Yara Grita y pregunta, "Donde estan mis dos amados?"Esta noche el cañonazo de las 9:00 sera disparado dos veces en recordacion nacional por el par que hubiera podido ser su futuro!..-----------------------------------------------" LOS NIÑOS SON LA ESPERANZA DEL MUNDO"..Jose Marti

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Oct 9th 2011

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