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 Portu Garcia

General Information
Current Name
Silvia E Portu
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Silvia E Portu Garcia
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Thursday, September 6, 1962
Relocated To
1325 SW 87 Ave
Stayed With
Aurora Portu, aunt, Florida City and Lincoln, Nebraska
Haiti Pedro Pan
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Silvia E's Story

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Hola Silvia, soy Emelina y si me acuerdo de ti. Mirando las fotos he visto a muchas y nombres conocidos. Que triste que NADA de lo que pusieron en TV yo lo recorde. Yo recuerdo tantas cosas que quisas ninguna de las muchachas grande recuerdan. Recuerdas una monjita "Sol"? decia "costurera sin dedal cose poco y cose mal". El sacerdote viejito (Irineo?), el padre Shagy? y mi favorito....Luis Perez que en su firma hacia un pez. Zenaida la enfermera de que si no estabas enferma te daba un purgante. Los milagros que habia que hacer con $1.00. La bodeguita de abajo de la escalera que vendian el javon por pedazos de una barra verde y...picaba! Donacion de 10C a la capilla. Las muchachas "grandes" mandandome al comedor a recojer "the emptied cardboard containers of OJ" para usarlos como rolos para el pelo. Y los famosos MOON PIES con el 1/4 de leche antes de acostarnos. Las escapadas al QUICK WAY y yo de compinche... watching out. Los aereogramas que teniamos que escribir y entregarlos para poder cobrar. Cuando yo me enfermaba TODAS mis hermanas grandes me cuidaban y me dejaban escondida el la casa sin que la "house mother" se enterara. El verdadero valor humano, hernamdad ,tantos serres distintaos sin diferencias ni perjuicios. Son miles mis recuerdos lindos y tristes a la vez. Solo que nadie nos preparo para OTRA separacion. Cuando ya teniamos un lugar a donde pertenecer, nos separaron y de nuevo otra adaptacion. Un besote y si vez a otra de mis hermanas les dices que por siempre tendran un lugar muy especial en mi corazon.

Message by Emelina (Lina) Bugallo Hernadez | Jul 7th 2010

Silvia, mi pequeña hermanita. Que contento estoy, acabo de aprender a usar la"Eñe'" ÑOOOOOOOOOOOO !!!! "......."ÑOOOOOOOO!!!!

Message by Melvin F Noriega Plasencia | Jun 15th 2010

Hi Silvia, I have been trying to find Juanita Gonzalez for over a year. Her brother Diego found me on this website 3 days ago. I will post the photos on my profile. Here is his email, Hola Niurka, The other day curiosity took me to the Pedro Pan Miami Herald web site and while searching a few known names which I still remembered, including that of my sister Juanita, I came across the fact that there were four ladies that had tried to contact her including you. Well here are the facts of why she has been unable to respond to any request. “I am my sisters’ voice.” Her name is Juanita (Gonzalez, maiden name) Sainz. I believe she shared the same home with you in Florida City. My sister no longer has cognitive awareness. A few years back she suffered a stroke due to some unknown brain conditions at the time, which left her progressively, in a matter of speaking in a vegetative state. She is presently located at the Waterford Convalescent Center in Hialeah. I do not see her as often as I should and when I do, it is questionable whether she recognizes me or not. Her husband Gilberto continues almost on a daily basis to visit and check on her and some of the nurses, claim that she recognizes him. Part of the reason I do not see her very often is the fact that I live in Indiana, well at least 6 months out of the year, the other 6, I spend in Florida (snow bird) and that’s when I take the time to visit her. As you can see, I have to apologize to have used this medium as a sort of catharsis. I have never put this into words or thought much about it, I just took it for granted. Life is always throwing us curve balls, and it is a matter of weather with swing or choke. Well included you can see some of the pictures of which I’m sure you will remember. I have more bright memories of my sister that I could share with you; it all has not been gloom and doom. She married twice and had two daughters from her first marriage, both living in Florida. Her last job was as a secretary for the Florida State Police Highway Department in Broward County. Please, would you be so kind to pass this along to the other ladies, as you probably already know who they are. Enough for now and looking forward to your response. Thanks Diego

Message by Niurka A Strong | Jun 15th 2010

Silvia estoy completamente de acuerdo contigo, que decepcion el programa. Me dio mucho coraje porque yo le agradesco a mi madre todos los sacrificios que hizo para que yo viviera en Libertad. Y lo de la CIA es pura mentira ya que el que conoce la historia de rusia sabe que esto sucedio alla. Gracias por exponer tan elocualmente tu sentimiento y el de todos los verdaderos pedro panes. Carinos, Maria del Carmen Ledesma-Pardo

Message by Maria Del C pardo -Ledesma | Jun 3rd 2010

Llego el dia del famoso documental, y Que Desilusion. Desde el jueves por la noche estoy tratando de comprender por que nos usaron para semejante reportaje con sus propositos ocultos. CNBC nos hizo creer que ibamos a tener un verdadero documental donde los verdaderos Pedro Pan y el principal motivo del exodo seria dado a conocer. Y, si, nos dieron a conocer , ahora nos ven como unos mal agradecidos llenos de resentimeinto en contra de nuestro padres, en contra del embargo y que visitamos a Cuba regularmente. Es de todos la sabido que pensaban quitarle la Patria Potestad a nuestros padres y pensaban mandar muchos ninos para Rusia. No se de donde salio la historia del CIA. Escogieron para el documental a un profesor de historia (el cual tiene todo mi respeto) a un alcalde (mi respeto para usted tambien) a una directora de Ciencia Politica de una Universidad, a una cantante (que por cierto bastante mala) a un empresario y a la fundadora de puentes cubanos (y esto que cosa es?) Los cuales no pertencen a nada que tiene que ver con Pedro Pan. A Carmen Valdivia le dieron 10 segundos para que ensenara la casa donde ella vivia en Florida City y a Gaby Orozco (gracias a Dios) lo dejaron hablar por 5 segundos de como sentimos muchos de nosotros. Y yo me pregunto por que? No entrevistaron a nadie de los que son parte de la organisacion de Pedro Pan y como todos sabemos tenemos muchos. Personas muy capaces y con mucha cultura. El PPN esta lleno de historias, algunas tristes, algunas simpaticas algunas muy interesantes, pero esas no le interesaron. Por que no escogieron a un Pedro Pan que se sienta orgulloso de serlo, que le agradesca a sus padres el sacrificio tan inmenso que hicieron al mandarnos para aca, que le agrasdesca a los Estados Unidos por habernos recibido en este gran pais, que le agradesca al Catholic Welfare Bureau a la familia Grau Alsina, a monsignior Walsh y a todos los que nos cuidaron con tanto amor y dedicacion, a un Pedro Pan que tiene tiempo para compartir con otros hermanos Pedro Pan aunque solo sea para recordar los tiempos pasados. A un Pedro Pan que no viaja a Cuba, A un Pedro Pan que no esta en contra del bloqueo. Yo se que la gran mayoria de nosotros agradecemos todo esto (pero no nos dieron la oportunidad de decirlo) y nos sentimos muy orgullosos de lo que fuimos y de lo que somos. Somos felices porque somos libres y no somos resentidos y amamos a nuestros padres, quienes dondequiera que esten saben que fue la mejor decision que pudieron haber tomado. Al habernos sacado de Cuba nos dieron lo LIBERTAD de expresar lo que querramos al igual que hicieron los entrevistados y nosotros de refutarlo. ENTRE NOSOTROS HAY UNA HERMANDAD UNICA PORQUE NOSOTROS SOMOS UNICOS. Y siempre que se hable de la historia de Cuba estaremos los Pedro Pan presente con nuestras historias y nuestros triunfos, y no nos hace CNBC para que lo publique. Que triste que algo que pudo ser tan lindo nos haya dejado con un sabor amargo en la boca. Que pena CNBC que no hicieron el documental que mostrara lo que en realidad somos. ( La informacion la tenian) ESTA NO ES NUESTRA HISTORIA P/S Quiero darle a la mama de Candy Sosa una A+ por decir que si lo hubiera tenido que hace otra vez lo hubiese hecho

Message by Silvia E Portu | May 29th 2010

Mi querida hermanita: Que linda te veias en el documentario - me dio tanta alegria verte! Que pena y tristeza que estas personas hayan usado y manipulado nuestra triste historia en su afan de promover sus mentiras y propaganda. Debian de estar avergonzados, pero probablemente no, ya que estan acostumbrados a enmarañar la verdad para su propia conveniencia. Te quiero mucho - llamame. Un abrazo muy fuerte, Mercy

Message by Mercedes Argiz Escribano | May 29th 2010

Hola mi hermanita, Muchas felicidades que cumplas muchos mas y con buena salud. Ahora mismo acabo de llegar de casa de mami y papi son casi las 8 p.m. muchas cosas buena y un besote bien grande con un fuerte abazo, mua, mua, tu tocaya. Sil

Message by Silvia Budejen Trujillo | Apr 24th 2010

Happy Birthday, Silvia!!! I wish I could be at your celebration but 'you know who' didn't invite me!!!!! Of course, I would not be one to make a big deal about it(hm hm)! In any case, I will in a couple of weeks! Que cumplas muchos mas y que Dios te bendiga!

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Apr 24th 2010

Happy Birthday Silvia.

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Apr 24th 2010

Silvia Barbara me dice que preguntas por me. Tengo planes de ir a la Florida en Noviembre. Ya se que Barbara te dio mi numero de telefono, yo hablo con ella a menudo. Mi mama disfruta mucho cuando va a los desayunos.

Message by Aurea Gisela Alma (Palacios) | Apr 18th 2010

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