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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Silvia, NO no gracias pero a mi me gusta dejar mi nombre donde quiera que yo escriba, sin ofender a nadie, me siento orgullosa de quien soy y de donde vengo y a donde voy y por eso mismo yo soy yo y no quiero ni tengo que esconderlo. No fui yo sola la que dije de los anonimos y la gente no le ha gustado eso pues no tenemos que esconder nada y me imagino que conociendo el miami herald como lo conozco suspenderan el anonimato dentro de muy pronto, mientras tanto tu sabes donde encontarme..gracias por el hint !!

Message by Ileana Arriola (Minico) | Jul 24th 2009

Silvia gracias por poner tu nombre asi te pude contestar pues con anonymous NO se ouede contestar.. ahora no se como en un mensaje entro el tuyo yy el de Jesus o es que lo escribieron ambos?? Dejame saber con mucho carinos

Message by Ileana Arriola (Minico) | Jul 24th 2009

Silva, no he encontrado el telefono de Jorge Paz pero no seguire buscando. Veo que muchas amigas quieren que la avisen del proximo desayuno dile que manden un email a y pidan que le manden las informaciones de todas las actividades o pueden ir al Web page Saludos

Message by Paco Echeverra | Jul 22nd 2009

Hola Silvia - que alegria oir de ti - si, vivo en Miami - dejame saber cuando es la reunion - yo no pude ir al desayuno por que estaba cuidando a mis nietos. Le escribi a Oneida y no me ha contestado - dile que le mando un beso -Un abrazo y un beso, Lourdes

Message by Lourdes Alvarez Rivero | Jul 22nd 2009

Hola Silvia, que pena que no pude it al desayuno del sabado pasado, pero estamos re-roofing la casa y esa manana fue caotica. Murphey's Law al maximo. Por lo contrario creo que el desayuno quedo buenisimo, que hasta estubo la madre Paulina, cuanto me alegro. No dejen de avisarme del proximo. Un beso, Carmen

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Jul 22nd 2009

07/19/09- Querida Silvie: Fué un gran placer conversar podemos perder esta nuevo chance que nos dà Papa Dios de unirnos nuevamente... Un beso, Otmara

Message by Otmara Capote | Jul 19th 2009

Silvia creo que encontre la solucion, cuando tu mandes un mensaje trata de que profile no se vea asia la derecha, pues cuando yo te mande un mensaje anterior yo tenia mi profile abierto y ahora lo rece y se le quito el delete al mensaje que te habia mandado. No se si esa es la solucion pero tratalo la proxima vez que mandes un mensaje saludos

Message by Paco Echeverra | Jul 18th 2009

Silvia, yo tengo el mismo problema pero si haces un clik al delete se te borra el mensaje. Me dio gusto conocerte hoy y compartir contigo un rato.saludos

Message by Frank ( Paco ) Echeverria | Jul 18th 2009

Que bien las pase con ustedes hoy. Que se repita Carinos MELVIN

Message by Melvin F Noriega Plasencia | Jul 18th 2009

Hola Silvia, Me gusto mucho tu mensaje vamos a ver si puedo ir al desayuno no te prometo nada pero voy a tratar. Carinos Tere

Message by Tere Diaz | Jul 14th 2009

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