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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Sera un placer conocerte en persona para mi tambien! Me encanta conectarme con otros Pedro Pans..despues de todo estamos unidos por "nuestra experiencia en comun".

Message by Emma A. Botet Zuloaga | May 6th 2010

Yes the Academia Sagrado Corazon is in Santurce but I don't remember a Rosa Rivas.

Message by Joseph L Oroza Ruilopez | May 6th 2010

Si Señora, a new batch of photos coming soon. Given that we have started the month of May, Mother's day will be theme. Carmen

Message by Carmen Valdivia | May 2nd 2010

Susy, Carmen won't be the only one with a new round of photos. Mine follow soon. I've asked The Herald to allow us to post more than 8 photos on a profile. Let's see what they say. What do you think of this idea?

Message by Eloísa Echazábal | May 2nd 2010

Thanks Susy. We lived right off the Via Blanca in an area called Atluras de Boca Ciega. There was a hotel in Guanabo called the El Martino. The owners son and I were really good firends as were my dad and his. I know he's in Miami and we'll see if we can hook up. My wife and I go to Miami at least once a year to see relatives and I'll have to keep an eye on the next PP reunion. Ricardo

Message by Ricardo Gonzalez Arias | May 2nd 2010

Gracias, Suzy.

Message by Estrella (Rodriguez) Pereira | Apr 30th 2010

Susy buenos dias. the food tasting was real good. how is the rat population en el centro de la FLORIDA?

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Apr 29th 2010

Good morning. te lo estoy disendo bien vajito para ver si no te despierto ok. hay que tener cuidado con todas la FIERAS. pues siempre por muy calmadas que esten siempre atacan y muerden. acuerdate que ne el estado de la FLORIDA HAY una ley que cuando un animal muerde a una persona lo reportan al departamento de ANIMALES y los viene a buscar y se los llevan del lugar donde mordieron a esas personas para proteger al publico. trata de despertarte poco a poco ok.IS THERE A LAW AGAINST OWNING DANGEROUS PETS!!

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Apr 23rd 2010

Hola, Susy: I uploaded a photo of Mercy, Manny and me. If you have a chance, please have Maria de la Milera contact me at I emailed her through this site, but she hasn't responded. We were together at Maryvale Orphanage in California and I would to speak with her. Take care! Un abrazo, Estrella

Message by Estrella (Rodriguez) Pereira | Apr 21st 2010

Susana (Susy) says: PPs: Carmencita Romanach's mother, Carmen Cancelas, passed away this afternoon at age 84 surrounded by her family. Carmencita, our love to you!

Status update | Apr 21st 2010

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