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:

Susana (Susy) Garrandés Gonzalez

General Information
Current Name
Susy Rodriguez
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Susana (Susy) Garrandés Gonzalez
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Friday, March 23, 1962
Relocated To
St. Vincent's Orphanage, Vincennes, Indiana
Stayed With
Velasco family-Florida City
Haiti Pedro Pan
Susana (Susy) has volunteered to help the children of Haiti. Find out how you can help, too.

Susana (Susy)'s Story

Truly blessed for having been raised in the USA!

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Yes, I'll be there, Dios mediante. I'm a guest of Jorge Viera, so I'll be at his table.

Message by Eloísa Echazábal | Nov 21st 2013

Thank you, Susana. And a Happy Thanksgiving Day to you too! Jose Antonio Amaro Reyes.

Message by Jose A. Amaro Reyes | Nov 21st 2013

El mensaje anterior se envió sin querer. Gracias a Dios logré reunirme con ellos y mi hermano pudo salir de la carcel donde fué uno de los presos plantados. Mis padres llegaron a celebrar sus 70 años de matrimonio, los habrán iguales pero no mejores. Gracias por tus palabras y en algún momento tendré el placer de estrechar su mano

Message by Ramón Luis de Guzmán Chaple | Nov 7th 2013

Dear Susy, I am so sorry that I am finding this website so late and just learned about Jorge. I went to school with Antonio in Evansville Indiana. We were very close and I think of him all the time--in fact, he is one of the reasons that I decided to adopt a little boy from an orphanage in Russia. I have such wonderfully fond memories of Antonio. We lived through the woods from the Hillenbrands. I would love to email him if he has email. He spoke so lovingly of his mother, you and Jorge. I hope you receive this message. My condolences to you and yours regarding Jorge. I felt as if I knew him!

Message by Stephanie Kempf | Aug 21st 2013

The following is another testament to the character and benevolence of the angel God sent to protect us the Pedro Pan children. Stories about Msgr. Bryan O. Walsh # 16 Father Walsh by Juan Pujol- June 16, 2013 Today is Father's Day and I have decided to sit down and write a few lines about someone who I consider that although he was not a father himself became a true Father to many of us. The first time I saw Father Walsh, as we used to call him back then, he was visiting Matecumbe to meet with some of us and listen to our grievances about the way meals were being served. Very respectfully, we explained what we thought was going on, he listened and we saw a change. Shortly after that, I was sent to St. Raphael's Hall and our contact was more often, especially when I had to see him because I did not meet curfew. On certain weeknights I would work for a few hours in a window factory near St. Raphael’s. I needed the money to buy medicines for my dad in Cuba and to go out with my girlfriend and friends. One night Father Walsh was waiting for me. Very patiently he heard all the good reasons that I had for working, he understood, but had to enforce the rules already known to all of us. I understood and I switched to daytime Saturday jobs. I was part of a musical group called "The Eagles". One night at the DuPont Plaza Hotel we had our premier performance as the backup band, the dance lasted longer that we had anticipated and when we returned to St. Raphael’s happy, full of enthusiasm and making plans for the future, Father Walsh was waiting for us. He was very clear and to the point, we were under his care and had to accept the established rules. We had mutual respect and in all these occasions of reprove he never faltered my dignity or talked to me in a bad way. That was the last time “the Eagles flew.” In February of 1965 I turned 19 and could no longer be part of the program but still had until May to graduate from La Salle High School, Father Walsh told me my tuition would be taken care of, I worked part time to sustain myself and to continue sending medicines to Cuba. The day of our wedding he took time from his busy schedule to concelebrate along with Fr. Pala. Years later we started to see him more often, every 26th of December we visited him at a Camp on Biscayne Blvd and 114 St where he lived with the last group that participated in the program. He would tell our children that he was their “abuelo”. Whenever I saw him he would introduce me as one of his “muchachos” and always gave me the impression that he said it very proudly. An Indian proverb states that we will be known forever by the tracks we leave behind. Father Walsh has left so profound tracks in me that I feel that the least I can do is to try to keep alive the torch he ignited with his “Fiat” when he was asked to be in charge of an “operation” that nobody had a clue how complex and important was going to be for the lives of so many.

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Jul 17th 2013

¡Gracias, Susy!

Message by Eloísa Echazábal | Jul 4th 2013

¡Bien dicho, Susana!¡Qué viva los Estados Unidos de América a quienes nosotros los pedro panes le debemos nuestra libertad, bienestar y éxito! ¡Qué viva! ¡Abajo el totalitarismo! ¡Abajo Cuba comunista y los tontos útiles que le hacen el juego para sacar provecho, los fracasados envidiosos guiados por el rencor y odio!

Message by Jose Antonio Amaro Reyes | Jul 4th 2013

Susana (Susy) has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Jul 4th 2013

Gracias Susana por tu amable mensaje. Es una suerte tener disponible esta tecnologia que nos facilita que los Pedro Pan permanezcamos siempre en contacto.

Message by Jorge L. Viera | Jun 18th 2013

Susana (Susy) says: Another Pedro Pan and Cuban success story.

Status update | Jun 6th 2013

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