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:

Fernando A Monfort Gutierrez

General Information
Current Name
Fernando A Monfort Gutierrez
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Fernando A Monfort Gutierrez
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Sunday, August 12, 1962
Relocated To
664 NW 24th
Stayed With
Gertrudis Complis, aunt

Fernando A's Story

I left Cuba on a Panam flight the morning of August 12 1962 with my sister Niurka Monfort. I remember spending a few days at the Capri Hotel where I swam in the roof pool with my sister and cousins. ...

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Fernando A's News Feed

Leave a public message for Fernando A.

Fernando are on for the 19th dinner at your house. Call me and confirm. Carlos A 786-344-0377

Message by Carlos Alamilla Besu | Jun 17th 2010


Message by Carlos Alamilla Besu | Jun 2nd 2010

Oye Fernan you said you were going to call me. That was months ago. Eres un barco!!!Call and let's talk and bring our lives to the present... carlitos alamilla

Message by Carlos Alamilla Besu | Jun 1st 2010

fERNANDO How are you!Since I checked this website last year I haven't touched it again until now and saw your message. call me at 7863440377 and we'll get together

Message by carlos alamilla | Jan 21st 2010

Happy Birthday to you......Love, Niurka

Message by Niurka A Strong | Sep 1st 2009

What's happening Ferna! I haven't seen you in years. You look good almost as good as me. I live in Miami. Keep in touch I want to hear from you carlitos alamilla

Message by Carlos Alamilla Besu | Aug 6th 2009

Dear Fernan, I know it was hard on me, but for a little boy your age it was harder. I remember the second day there, you met me at the benches and said, "They are making me clean toilets and mop floors, I don't know how to do that, I am only 7 years old". I felt so bad for you, because it was not fair for such a young kid to do house work. Remember how I saved a few cents every pay day out of "our big" $1.25 a week to buy toiletries and needs? I bought you plastic soldiers for Christmas because you missed your soldiers you left back in Cuba. We had no Santa at the Camp so I became Santa:-) Our holidays were sad. I remember you hardly ate for three years, and you loss a lot of weight and you were so very thin when Papi and Mami came. But it only took 1 month of tender loving care, and you were back to your healthy looks. I am proud of your success. You turned out to be a very handsome, tall, and bright person. I am happy for you and your family. Love you, Your sister Niurka

Message by Niurka A Strong | Jun 2nd 2009

Dear Fernan, Niurka showed me your profile and story. I feel so sad about those days, I cannot even think about them. I almost did not make it emotionally not being able to be with the two of you. The happiest day of my life was when your father and I arrived at Florida City and we were able to be with you again. Love, Mami

Message by Niurka A Strong | Jun 2nd 2009

Lots of vivid memories for a 7-year-old. How great that you get to tell your story now.

Message by Martha Strong Slater | May 27th 2009

I love your story. I put our pictures on my profile so go search and read the story and see pictures. We came August 12 1962. not in July, you might need to edit the story,

Message by Niurka A Strong | May 26th 2009

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