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:

Carmen Artiles Suarez

General Information
Current Name
Carmen Artiles Sloan
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Carmen Artiles Suarez
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Monday, June 25, 1962
Relocated To
Arrived in Florida City Sept. 1962 to 1966, then moved to fosterhome in Hialeah, FL., after mother arrived (Ines Suarez de Artiles) moved to Wichita, Kansas to join brother (Francisco Artiles - "Frank", in 1977 moved to Boise, Idaho and in 2007 moved t
Stayed With
Marta Artiles (Aunt) in Miami for 3 months

Carmen's Story

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

Carmen's News Feed

Leave a public message for Carmen.

Carmen Artiles como estas? no se si te acuerdas de mi vivi en la casa de VILLAR en FLORIDA CITY. me llamo FERNANDO COLLADO. Celia Capote and I were going out at that time for about three years. she lived en la casa de Alcoz. hpoe to see you at the next reunion in NOV IN miami ok. bye tu hermano pedro pan FERNANDO COLLADO

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Dec 7th 2009

Hola Carmen,que alegria hablarencontrarte.Pues ya Sivia me habia hablado de ti.Estoy esperando que Silvia me de el # para hablar.te acuerdas del Fosterhome?pues tienes muy buena memoria.Bueno espero hablarnos pronto,besos y abrasos.Oneida.

Message by Oneida Moreno Abreu | Dec 7th 2009

Como estas Carmen. Me acuerdo de ti, vivi en la casa Mariana con tu hermano Frank. Lo vi en Wichita cuando estube por alla el ano pasado. Volvi el mes pasado y fui por su casa pero no estaba. Que haces en Idaho? Muchos saludos.

Message by George Mas Enjamio | Dec 4th 2009

Hi Carmen, I'm so happy to see that you finally registered. Don't worry about not remembering many things from Florida City. Tere Paneque came to Miami during the long week-end and we had a real good time. Those of us from Castillo House met and it was a unique experience. No dejes de seguir entrando y participar con nosotros. Todas hablamos de ti y te queremos igual que si no hubieran pasado los años. Un beso, TereGonza

Message by Teresita Gonzalez-Angulo | Dec 3rd 2009

Carmen: soy paquito echeverria de cienfuegos, no se si te acuerdas de mi nuestras familias eran muy amigos, tu papa en paz descanse era padrino de mi hermano alfonso. donde vives y que es de la vida de tu hermano hace muchos años que no los veos. Saludos

Message by Frank ( Paco ) Echeverria | Jun 8th 2009

Mi querida e inolvidable hermanita!! Soy Tere Gonza. Espero pronto leas tus mensajes y te comuniques. Te quiero igual que siempre.

Message by Teresita Gonzalez-Angulo | May 20th 2009

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