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:

José Antonio Amaro Reyes

General Information
Current Name
Jose Antonio Amaro Reyes
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
José Antonio Amaro Reyes
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Tuesday, August 14, 1962
Relocated To
CWB Matecumbe

José Antonio's Story

Remarks:An English translation is provided below for non-Spanish speaking relatives and friends.

Nací en el antiguo municipio de Holguín de la antigua provincia de Oriente en el año 1948. Fui bauti...

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Estimado Jose Antonio: Yo conoci al señor durante los años que estube en Wichita. Cuando atendia la escuela elementaria St. Mary's, tenia que caminar todas las tardes de la escuala hacia Marian Children's Home y en el camino tenia que pasar siempre por el negocio de buenas raises del señor Casado. En el 2003, otro Cubano, Carlos Mayan fue elegido alcalde de Wichita, o sea, es el segundo Cubano que sirvio en esa posicion. Carlos Mayans became mayor of the city of Wichita, Kansas in April 2003. He was born in Havana, Cuba in 1948 and immigrated to the United States shortly after the Cuban Revolution of 1959. In addition to serving as mayor, Mayans also served as a Republican representative for Wichita's 100th district in the Kansas House of Representatives from 1992 to 2000.

Message by Humberto Rapado | Mar 11th 2010

Querido hermano: Hace mucho tiempo que no nos comunicamos...pero hoy...por cosas que desconozco ha llegado a mis manos el papel donde George apuntaba el día y la información del Aeropuerto de Miami......Si quieres comunícate conmigo y si no la tienes con mucho gusto te la mando....llegaste un 14 de Agosto de 1962. Saludos, Otmara

Message by Otmara Capote | Mar 9th 2010

Pepe ayer hable con PINOCHO me dijo que te saludara. si quieres hablar con el dimelo y te mando su telefono via your e-mail ok. bye FERNANDO

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Mar 6th 2010

Jose Antonio, tu eres como un Mercedes Benz, no importa como vaya vestido su chofer, siempre va con clase. En otras palabras, tu puedes corregir lo que creas, que siempre va a estar bien hecho.

Message by Marcos F. Pinedo | Feb 25th 2010

Santero como estas? como va el negocio? PITA todavia no te ha encontrado verdad? cuidate ok. bye FERNANDO PS YA me compre mi traje blanco al igual que las medias y zapatos. asi que avisame cuando te puedo ir aver para que me despojes!!!!!!!!

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Feb 17th 2010

Thank you so much for your feedback. I will remember what you are right! Good luck and good health to you.

Message by Jose Arango Buzainz | Feb 17th 2010

Hola Jose A. como estas? solo quiero saludarte y dejarte saber que siempre me acuerdo de ti. Un abrazo de tu hermanita, Sil

Message by Silvia Budejen Trujillo | Feb 6th 2010

Well, my word!!! I say to 'em folks at the capital "ya'll think ya'll movie stas"? Yes, siree, them ol" PP are on the television!!! I'm w/ shy! Actually, I'm just shy!

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Jan 23rd 2010

Oh my goodness....look who came out of the woodwork!!!!! Buenos dias to you too....All the Miami clan is busy this morning being filmed by CNBC so it's just us...the country people!

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Jan 23rd 2010

Jose Antonio, Que placer leer de ti "Buenos Dias" asi que "Buenas Tarde" y pronto te escribo a tu correo electronico. Ojala que pronto nos veamos en la Florida Central. Cuidate-----JAM

Message by Justo Alejandro Martinez Monzon | Jan 23rd 2010

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