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:

Amparo O Mendigutia Martin

General Information
Current Name
Amparo O Mendigutia Martin
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Amparo O Mendigutia Martin
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Thursday, September 6, 1962
Relocated To
439 NE 24 St
Stayed With
Ana Gali, friend

Amparo O's Story

This person has not yet filled out their story about their flight as a part of Operation Pedro Pan.

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Amparito, que bueno que ya te encontramos! Casualmente Carmen y yo te estuvimos recordando el pasado domingo y tambien a otras hermanitas de Florida City.Carmen tiene una foto en la guagua donde estan todas ustedes y comentamos que nos pondriamos muy contentos si las pudieramos localizar de nuevo.Creo que la foto aparece en el site de Isa, estas tu, Carmen Medina,Guichi,Tete Estremera y otras que se nos han perdido.De nuevo, que alegria de saber de ti ! Siempre te hemos recordado! Carinos MELVIN

Message by Melvin F Noriega Plasencia | Apr 29th 2010

Hola Amparito, que alegría que te registraste. Precisamente el sábado nos reunimos un grupito y te estábamos recordando. Melvin estaba convencido de que pronto sabríamos de ti, y tenia razón. Bienvenida.

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Apr 29th 2010

Amparo O says: Melvin- yo me recuerdo de ti, yo soy de Sancti Spiritus, me encanto tu conformidad, yo soy asi tambien, tengo una jarra llena de limonada bien fria! A

Status update | Apr 28th 2010

Amparo O says: Vicky Blanchet- siempre me recuerdo de ti con tu pelito corto, siempre riendote en Fl City. Amparito mendigutia

Status update | Apr 28th 2010

Amparo O says: Martha Vega- me acuerdo de tu cara aunque no recordaba el nombre, yo tambien soy realtor en San Antonio, Tx. yo estaba con Quesada. Amparo Mendigutia

Status update | Apr 28th 2010

Amparo O says: Niurka Monfort- siempre recuerdo el vestido color lila que tenias que me encantaba y una vez me lo prestaste para una fiesta, gracias! Amparo Mendigu

Status update | Apr 28th 2010

Amparo O says: Maria del Carmen - me recuerdo de ti, y de tu hermana Isabel en fl City. Amparito mendigutia.

Status update | Apr 28th 2010

Amparo O says: Hola Silvia- me recuerdo perfectamente de ti, siempre sonriendo en Florida City, ojala todo te haya ido bien en tu vida. Amparito mendigutia

Status update | Apr 28th 2010

Amparo O has joined the Pedro Pan Network. Please welcome them!

Status update | Apr 28th 2010

Hi Amparito, no se si te recuerda de mi, soy Silvia Budejen y compartimos muchas fiestas juntas en Fla City. Ojala te registres pronto. Besos de tu hermanita PP, Sil

Message by Silvia Budejen Trujillo | Nov 24th 2009

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