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:

Marisol Mesa Rodriguez

General Information
Current Name
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Marisol Mesa Rodriguez
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Thursday, May 10, 1962
Relocated To
Florida City
Stayed With
houseparents Rodriguez-Wallings

Marisol's Story

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

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Hola Marisol, Como estas? Te vez igualita. Gracias por tu mensaje tan bonito. No vivo en Miami, pero espero ir a uno de los desayunos pronto, quizas en noviembre. Si Dios quiere to vere pronto. Saludos, Barbara Palacios Wessels

Message by Barbara F Wessels | Sep 23rd 2009

Marisol me alegre mucho que hayas hido al desayuno y pudistes ver a tus amigas de años atras. veras que ese fin de semanan que vas avenir la pasaras mucho mejor pues ahi vas aver muchas personas de tu pasado, que te estiman y te quieren. adios tu amigo tu foto te dire como decia FERNANDO LAMAS darling you LOOK MAVELOUS!!!!!!

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Sep 23rd 2009

Marisol cuentame que tal te fue en el desayuno? te veo pronto. carinos FERNANDO

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Sep 21st 2009

Marisol, cuanta alegria encontrarnos de nuevo, no te pierdas. Un beso, Carmen

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Sep 20th 2009

Marisol Los anos no pasan por gusto. Voy a Fortlauderdale sep. 27 voy a pasar 7 dias. Mi mama y my hermano viven alla y Barbara. No me contaste de tu hermana. Carinos Gisela

Message by Aurea Gisela Alma (Palacios) | Sep 19th 2009

Hola Marisol no se si me recuerdas yo se me acuerdo de ti estabamos en casa Villar, espero verte en el desayuno. Cariños.Sary

Message by Sarah Consuelo Aguilar Valdes | Sep 17th 2009 and yes puedes traer a tu esposo yo creo que muchas personas van a traer a sus esposas y esposos ok. see you.

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Sep 15th 2009

Marisol aya en MIAMI venden digital cameras verdad? chica tomate una foto y ponla en tu PROFILE para verte ok. es mas cuando vayas al desayuno del dia 19 de sept. dile a todas las muchachitas que vas aver ahi que te tomen una foto y que ellAs mismAs las pongan ok. tengo gana de verte, ya son ya 42 años que no te veo. tambien quiero recordarte que no se te olvide de mandar tu dinero para la comida del sabado nov. 7 pues los espacios estan limitados nada mas que para 120 personas y no sabemos si se van aparecer mas jentes ok. si necesitas mas informasion sobre esas reuniones ese fin de semana dimelo para mandarte un e-mail con todos los detalles pero estoy seguro que las muchachitas te tendran tambien esa informasion si las necesitas. bueno mi amiga cuidate ok. bye FERNANDO

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Sep 15th 2009

hi marisol how are you...? i write you from asturias, spain in the north of the country. I write you because i put my name in google and i found you. i can´t belive it!!! it´s exactly like my name... Could you explaing me where are you from and if you have family near to me?¿ my name is Marisol Mesa Rodriguez i hope notice from you. my hotmail is i´m spanish so , if you speak spanish i prefer in spanish . big kisses

Message by marsiol | Sep 11th 2009

Marisol, ¡qué simpático!: "a senior moment." De aquí en adelante todos los que entren en contacto conmigo me oirán decir: "Excuse me, I´m having a senior moment" o "Please, don´t you see I´m having a senior moment!" Me gusta mucho esa frasesita. Saludos, José Antonio Amaro Reyes

Message by Jose Antonio Amaro Reyes | Sep 7th 2009

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