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:

Joaquin Alberto Garcia Larrieu

General Information
Current Name
Joaquin Alberto Garcia Larrieu
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Joaquin Alberto Garcia Larrieu
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Friday, January 20, 1961
Relocated To

Joaquin Alberto's Story

I am Joaquin Jr. and wanted to list my dad. Unfortunatly he is not with us any longer...

I have been informed that he went to the Kendall Camp.

Click here to read the full story

Joaquin Alberto's News Feed

Leave a public message for Joaquin Alberto.

Hi Joaquin Jr., Thank you for sharing the picture of your dad with us. I saw in his profile that he came in January 61 so he was one of the first pedropans to arrive in this country. I am sure he would have been happy to be here with all his pedropan brothers and sisters.....he will always be remembered by us. Love,

Message by Carmencita Romanach | Feb 28th 2010

Joaquin Alberto has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Feb 26th 2010

Joaquin, puede ser que tu no te acuerdes de mi pero yo iba mucho por tu casa a recojer a Tu papa y a ti a tu hermana y los llevamos al colegio de St, Brendan, Tu Papa y yo trabajamos por muchos años en el Banco AmeriFirst el era mi jefe pero ademas de eso eramos muy buenos amigos. Senti mucha la partida de el cuando recibi el email que tu mama me mando no lo podia creer pues lo havia visto hacia un mes. Mucha fuerz y fue y adelante Uds. tuvieron un gran padre y yo un gran amigo Recibes un fuerte abrazo.

Message by Frank ( Paco ) Echeverria | Jul 17th 2009

Joaquin I am sorry about the lost of your father. I think it will be great if you can upload his picture and post as much as you can about his pedro pan experience as you can obtain, it will give him the place in history he deserves.

Message by Marcia Caridad Ramos Gonzalez | Jul 17th 2009

I read with great interest about the Operation Pedro Pan...I worked at the Orphanage here in Vincennes, IN when several Cuban girls were brought here from Cuba. At one time I also was in this Orphanage (St. Vincents) in the early part of 1940. I had an email from Suzy Garrandez Rodriquez from Florida looking for info and pictures of this place, I am the so-called historian and have since sent her that info and we are in contact. She recently lost her brother Jorge Garrandez and a service will be held in Florida on Saturday July 18th....I have been told about the time she was brought to Vincennes, IN and she also have told me many stories about how things were in Cuba at that time......Pat Clark, Vincennes, IN

Message by Pat Clark | Jul 17th 2009

Hello Joaquin, Thank you for registering your late father. He deserves to be here along with all the other Pedro Pans. Do you know if he went to a camp? The Pedo Pan Database Administrator

Message by Pedro Pan Administrator | Jun 29th 2009

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