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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Tocaya gracias por tus oraciones y preocuparte por mi mami, ya esta mejor. Hablamos mas tarde, Besitos, Sil

Message by Silvia Budejen Trujillo | Dec 16th 2009

Silvia, yo también le doy gracias a Dios por este Network que me ha traído tantas lindas amistades nuevas este año. Antes del Network, 14,048 era sólo un número para mí, Florida City era sólo el nombre de un campamento. Ahora 14,048 representa vidas, historias, risas y lágrimas, y Florida City representa compañerismo, y también tristezas y alegrías compartidas. Le pido a Dios que todos pasemos un feliz Día de dar Gracias, en unión de todos nuestro seres queridos. Eloísa

Message by Eloísa Echazábal | Nov 26th 2009

En este dia de Accion de Gracias, agradesco a Dios por todas la bendiciones que he recibido este ano. Especialmente por la gran dicha de habernos regalado este network. Muchas felicidades para todos y que tengan un dia lleno de amor paz y felicidad. Besos para todos.

Message by Silvia E Portu | Nov 26th 2009

Silvia, gracias por tu mensaje, me da alegria que la hallan pasado bien y que se hayan divertido, hay que repetirlo mas amenudo, nos vemos en el proximo desayuno, un abrazo

Message by Frank ( Paco ) Echeverria | Nov 25th 2009

Silvia: Ya te vi hecha una artista en las fotos...parece que la pasaron super chevere. Cariños

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Nov 23rd 2009

Hi Silvia, I had not have time to get in to the computer to the let you know that I had a great time with all of you. I am waiting for the next breakfast to meet again with all of you. Besitos. Marian

Message by Maria A Blanco | Nov 21st 2009

Mi querida Silvia, a mi me paso igual. Creo que tu eres Escorpiona pero no se cuando, por si acaso yo tambien quiero felicitarte y compartir tu idea de felicitarnos en anos venideros.Si por algun motivo esto no pudiera ser, quiero decirte hoy " lo dichoso que soy por tenerte a ti como amiga y hermana". Gracias de nuevo! Carinos MELVIN

Message by Melvin F Noriega Plasencia | Nov 19th 2009

Silvia, gracias por las felicitaciones, ya pronto nos veremos en la Gala para seguir celebrando....un abrazo

Message by Carmencita Romanach | Nov 16th 2009

Como tu sabias,que yo estaba pensando en ti? Yo creo que los Escorpiones tienen una gran percepcion. Carinos MELVIN

Message by Melvin F Noriega Plasencia | Nov 13th 2009

Mi querida hermanita Silvi: Muchas gracias preciosa por haberme llevado a todas partes el lunes. Que bien la pase contigo, Silvia y Oneida. Te agradezco mucho que te hayas tomado el dia libre y que me llevastes a todas partes. Yo te deje un recado en tu celular. Esto noche trato de llamarte. Un beso y un fuerte abrazo. Mercy

Message by Mercedes Argiz Escribano | Nov 12th 2009

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