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:

Elsa Bulnes Lopez

General Information
Current Name
Elsa Bulnes-Garcia
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Elsa Bulnes Lopez
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Saturday, December 2, 1961
Relocated To
CWB Fla. City/ Spokane, Washington State
Stayed With

Elsa's Story

This person has not yet filled out their story about their flight as a part of Operation Pedro Pan.

Elsa's News Feed

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Si Elsa soy yo tu prima la hija de Emilio hermano de tu papà Julian, y mi hermana Eugenia. Mi e-mail es

Message by Elsa Bulnes-Garcia | Feb 2nd 2013

contéstame por favor tengo muchas ganas de saber si son mis primas

Message by Marcia Caridad Ramos Gonzalez | Feb 2nd 2013

elsa tengo mucha curiosidad de contactarte,ojala me puedas mandar tus datos para hablarte por medio del correo de mi hija y me encantaria saber de eugenita

Message by Elsa Bulnes Solorzano | Feb 1st 2013

Elsa eres tu y mi prima Ma eugenia soy Elsa Bulnes de Mexico mi papa Julian me encantaria conectarte

Message by elsa bulnes solorzano | Feb 1st 2013

A la vecinita que me escribio se quien es Sonia y la hermana Miriam. Que alegria!

Message by Elsa Bulnes-Garcia | Jun 10th 2011

Elsaaaaa......Me quede anonanada cuando te vi...que alegriaaa.....Eramos vecinas cuando ninas y yo iba a tu casa y y a ti te gustaba cantar en el auto el ratoncito Miguellllllll...piensa piensa...quien soy??? Nos tomabamos fotos en el columpiooo y tengo una hermana.............Un besooooo y escribme.......

Message by vecinita incognitaaaa | Jun 10th 2011

Elsa says: Feliz Dia de las Madres a todas mis hermanitas Pedro Pan. Que Dios y la Virgen las bendiga.

Status update | May 6th 2011

Elsa, si ya yo lo sabia Ms Hansen me lo habia dicho pues ella me llamo, siempre nos hablamos todos los dias cuando estuvo aca y desde Spokane por lo menos una vez al mes mas los emails LOL nos mantenemos muy al contacto. OYe hable tambien con Vicky y le conte que yo reuno a los de Colfax casi todos los meses en una casa que se ofresca del grupo y cada uno brings in a platter y nos divertimos cantidad asi que mantengamonos en contacto y asi pueden ir cuando gusten, me encantaria verlas a uds y tambien le comente a Vicky que yo hablo muy a menudo con Myrian Sarduy de alla tambien y para mas erammos muy amigas cuando saliamos a bailar juntas aca en miami circa late 80's & early 90's...asi que le hablare sobre uds para que ella lo sepa y si quiere las pondre en contacto pues ella esta en una relacion y tu sabes como es eso...cariños....ileana 786-499-1992 cuando quieras...sabes algo mas de alguien de Spokane?? Si quieres y ellos/as quieren me puedes dar el telefono de ellos o vice versa...

Message by Ileana Arriola (Minico) | Dec 2nd 2010

Elsa que gusto encontrarte, yo estuve en Colfax y me recuerdo de ti y tu nombre, Mrs Hansen esta aca nos reunimos y sigue aca.. llamame anytime al 786-499-1992 para darte detalles y cualquiera que tu sepas que esta por aca o por donde esten dale mi # de cel y mi email que seria un gustazo tenerlos a todos juntos, nosotros nos reunimos en alguna casa casi todos los meses...y te recuerdas de Myriam Sarduy y sus hermanas, buena Myriam esta me !!!

Message by Ileana Arriola (Minico) | Nov 23rd 2010

Elsa, si dios quiere mi esposo y yo vamos a ir a los 50 de Pedro Pan, dejame saber si vas estoy haciendo todos mis planes alrededor de Melvin tu sabes el es el que manda ha ha, te llamos mas adelante o mandame un e mail carinos

Message by Caridad Cesari Quevedo | Sep 30th 2010

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