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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Mujer dejame decirte que ati no hay que estar persiguiendote mucho para BUSCARTE LA LENGUA OK. si huvieras vivido en MATANZAS ni el barrio de BACHICHI te huviera dejado vivir ahi!!!!!! es mas es que yo no se como te pudieron sacar de CUBA bajo las visas que le daban a las familias por la operasion pedro pan? dejame decirte que por muy fino que sea el colador algo siermpre se pasa!!!!! y yo se que tu fuistes unas de esas cosas que pasaron!!!

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Mar 1st 2010

Susy buenos dias te voy a mandar este mensaje con dudas porque se que con tu mente tan MALA ma vas a VOLVER LOCO. pero tengo que mandartelo aunque algo en mi mente me esta disiendo que no lo haga. ok. DE TODAS MIS HERMANAS TU ERES LA LLEGUA QUE MAS CORRE EN EL IPODROMO DE MI CORAZON. AHORA DEJAME SENTARME y prepararme par tu descarga!!!!!!!!!

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Mar 1st 2010

Drums keep pounding a rhythm to the brain, La de da de de....

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Feb 26th 2010

Susana (Susy) says: And the beat goes on.....

Status update | Feb 26th 2010

My name is Dan Sievers. I am a social worker in Vincennes, IN. My father Jack Sievers did maintenance and volunteer work At St. Vincent's. I found your page recently and was reading him your information. He in fact recalled your last name before I told him. My parents were foster parents for Raphael Arbolea and Carlos Lombardia. I read about Raphael's death shortly before christmas. After discovering your page I see he had just made contact with you shortly before his death. Mom and dad do have old photos of St. Vincent's. I live almost within view of St. Vincents. I wanted to read your story but I cannot get it to pull through on the website.

Message by Dan Sievers | Feb 20th 2010

Susana (Susy) says: HAZAS, ZENAIDA G., 82, of Louisville, passed away Wednesday, 2/17/10 at her home. She was a native of Cuba. Mother of PP's Jerry & Adriana Hazas.

Status update | Feb 20th 2010

Susana (Susy) says: Hoy, Sabado 2/20/10, los hermanos Pedro Pan de Puerto Rico se reunen for 1ra vez. Les deseamos mucha alegria y bendiciones en los 50 Años de OPP.

Status update | Feb 20th 2010

Hi Susy, ya quedan muy pocos dias. Oyeme lo le digas a Fermando que tu eres mas vieja por lo que te paso. Eso es lo que el quiere que te sientas vieja. Saludos

Message by Frank ( Paco ) Echeverria | Feb 19th 2010

Susy esto que te voy a contar es verdad. alla en VERSALLES havia un hombre que vivia cerca del RIO YUMURI. y el estaba un poco quemado del cerebro como tu. y un dia empeso aser un gallinero en la sala de su casa y cuando lo termino de aser se dio de cuenta que no podia sacarlo por la puerta y tu sabes lo que hiso? le quito el techo a la casa que cubria la sala y por ahi saco el gallinero que hiso. ati te paso lo mismo con tu carro la unica diferencia entre tu y el es que tu eres de la HABANA y el de MATANZAS, que eso lo hase a el un poco mas inteligente. que tu, pero no te enojes ni pierdas pasiensa ok. todavia te quedan unos años mas para que vuelvas a reportar que te robaron los frenos el timon el radio y el asiento ok. la proxima ves que vayas para tu carro y veas que la puerta esta abierta espero que te des de cuenta que ahi no fue un hombre que andubo como una persona desente y te abrio la puerta ok. LO QUE HISO FUE LLEVARSELA!!!!!!

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Feb 19th 2010

Susy now we are even round two goes to you ok. cuidate por que te voy a tumbar el tercero ok!!!!!!!!!!

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Feb 19th 2010

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