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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Susana, a Dios gracias. Amen. Que el Sen~or nos bendiga a todos! Jose Antonio.

Message by Marcia Caridad Ramos Gonzalez | Oct 24th 2009

Susy, ya veo que tienes ahora al Marquito haciendole babysittig tambien, hasta donde vas a llegar. Besos, Sil

Message by Silvia Budejen Trujillo | Oct 24th 2009

Pious Lucia would probably also watch over misbehaving siblings. But in the image, you're the one leading them into trouble - an unsafe altitude.

Message by Nelson Del Valle Caraballo | Oct 24th 2009

Susy: He visto como estos muchachitos se están poniendo un poco mas impertinentes de la cuenta. Ni los cocos macacos les asustan ya. Bueno, es hora de acostarse a dormir. Mañana será otro dia y no quiero ni pensar en lo que puede traer. Nitey nite, yoli

Message by Yolanda Cardenas Ganong | Oct 23rd 2009

Goodnight Marcos, Carmen and any one spying...I got some reading to do. It's a book called "how to be nice and sweet as marshmallows". Tomorrow is another sweet day (yeah, right)!

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Oct 23rd 2009

Susy, no se cual es mejor, mean Susy or the new and improved gentler version. MMMMMMMMMMM, OK, go back to being nasty.

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Oct 23rd 2009

Susana, chiyo chino chiten chigo chinin chigun chiat chiti chitud. ChiO chiK? Chicia chio

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Oct 23rd 2009

Nice picture. Good Photoshop work.

Message by Nelson Del Valle Caraballo | Oct 23rd 2009

Susy, esta buena la foto, Ya veo que te has dedicado a cuidar niños me imagino que los que estan en la foto son Marcos y Fermnando. Nos vemos pronto Saludos. Mira el juego mañana es a las 3:30 pm creo que lo televisan por ABC

Message by Frank ( Paco ) Echeverria | Oct 23rd 2009

Susana, llevo un largo rato leyendo lo que escribes y quiero que sepas que lo he hecho con la mayor comprension que se le puede mostrar a un ser humano, pero lo de mosquita muerta es el colmo! Esa guayaba no se la traga nadie! Si tu eres mosquita muerta que venga Dios y lo vea!

Message by Marcia Caridad Ramos Gonzalez | Oct 23rd 2009

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