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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Susy, My heartfelt condolences for the loss of your brother George. Thank you for sharing his story. I love it that he declared his own life as fully lived. How fitting that he left around the time of San Fermín and the running of the bulls. Surely his joyous spirit is now running freely and safely somewhere in the Universe. My best wishes for comfort to you and Jorge's family. Un abrazo, Yolanda Cardenas

Message by Yolanda Cardenas Ganong | Jul 12th 2009

MESSAGE FROM SUSANA GARRANDES TO ALL PEDRO PANS: My brother, George (Jorge) knew many Pedro Pans from St. Peter & Paul School & La Salle High School in Miami,was also a Pedro Pan and passed away this week. I wanted to post his obituary here for anyone that knew him and we have not been able to contact: Jorge (George) Garrandés passed away on July 8th peacefully at his home after a short illness surrounded by his mother Eladia, step-father Vila, twin daughters Janine and Janessa, son Emilio, his much beloved Eileen, his twin brother Tony and sister Susy. He is also survived by his grandson Julian, son-in-law J.C., nephews Jorge & Tony, nieces Erika & Naty, aunts and cousins. George was born in Habana, Cuba and together with his twin brother Tony and sister Susy, arrived in the U.S. in 1962 at age 9 in the exodus of children from Cuba known as Operation Pedro Pan. He was an avid fisherman with an outgoing and adventurous personality that allowed him to make friends wherever he went. As a great admirer of Hemingway and Michener, George was inspired to visit Pamplona, Spain to run with the bulls during the Fiesta de San Fermin. For the past 22 years, every July 6th-14, he traveled to Pamplona for the San Fermines, living out the tradition and completing nearly 90 runs. George not only always had a joke or two to share but also had a very charitable heart. He supported St. Jude Children’s Hospital and proudly displayed photos of ‘his’ many children on his desk. He lived his life without regrets and always said that no matter what may happen to him, he wanted everyone to know, “I lived my life to the fullest!” George will be sorely missed by his family and friends. A mass in celebration of his very full life will take place on 7/18/09 at St Peter & Paul Church in Miami, Florida at 11:00am. WE LOVE YOU BULL GEORGE!

Message by Pedro Pan Administrator | Jul 12th 2009

Susana I did not know your brother but I am sorry he passed away, my sincere condolence to you and your family. You wrote a beautiful message. I hope that sometime in the future you be able to register and complete his page for him.

Message by Marcia Caridad Ramos Gonzalez | Jul 11th 2009

Thank you so much Susy for taking the time out to message me. God Bless you. Mary

Message by Maria Petronila Hernandez Mills | Jun 24th 2009

You'll get there...three and a half years! I can't imagine it! I have Ivonne's book loaned out to a friend in Alabama right now. My story is a happy one because the time without my parents was so short, so I've always looked at it that way. On the other hand I was very sheltered, an only child for 7 years, and came alone with no siblings. Once you've done yours it will be there for always. That's why mine is so long. This site is a permanent record and I want to include everything I can remember. Who knows, years from now someone may be comforted or gain courage from your story and it will be another brave thing you did in your life. Hang in there, you can do it...Mary

Message by Maria Hernandez Mills | Jun 16th 2009

Queria llamarte, pero no tengo el numero correcto. Me puedes llamar de nuevo?

Message by Marcia Caridad Ramos Gonzalez | Jun 12th 2009

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