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:

Zoraida J Carballeira Suco

General Information
Current Name
Zoraida J Carballeira Paton
Current Location
Name on Arrival
Zoraida J Carballeira Suco
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Wednesday, March 7, 1962
Relocated To
CWB Florida City
Stayed With

Zoraida J's Story

Mi hermano mas joven, Jose Rafael, ya habia salido el agno antes en el 61. Al fin, me di cuenta que tambien yo me tenia que ir pues en Cuba no se podia hacer nada. Creo que de mis compagneras de escue...

Click here to read the full story

Zoraida J's News Feed

Leave a public message for Zoraida J.

Zoraida, hacia tanto que no entraba en este website, pero que alegria tan grande me dio saber de ti, aunque ya hace bastante tiempo que me escribiste, no sabes cuanto deseaba saber de ti, te dire que tengo 4 nietos dos ninas que son mi delirio la chiquita tiene 9 y estudia drama y tennis, la mayor tiene 11 y desde que nacio tiene delirio por el baile y tiene una gracia y una dedicacion para el ballet que quisiera la vieras, ellas son hijas de mi hija Denise la mas chiquita que no es tan chiquita ya tiene 40, la ,mayor se caso con su unico novio y despoues de 25 anos el se busco una amiguita y se termino el matrimonio pero quedaron dos amores de hijos, el mayor tiene 22 y el mas chiquito 17 pero son bellos y super buenos, no me puedo quejar, sigo casada con Eduardo y ya vamos a cumplir 50 anos. Dime si algun dia vienes a miami, para vernos, yo fui a Canada en 2010 estuvimos en varias ciudades y nos gustaron mucho. Bueno vamos a tratar de comunicarnos mas seguido, Carinos Mercy

Message by MERCY DOMINGUEZ CAMPUZANO | May 30th 2012

Hola otra vez, Zoraida -(Tengo una primita en Cuba tocaya tuya y le decimos Zori. Me sale decirte Zori tambien.) I don't remember meeting your brother. I was in ABQ only 10 months, my brother and I stayed with a nice family by the name of Lucero. I graduated from Valley High School. I was accepted at UNM, but my parents arrived in Florida and we decided to relocate in Gainesville.- Very nice to hear from you. I hope we can meet some day in a big PP reunion. Yolanda

Message by Yolanda Cardenas Ganong | Sep 26th 2009

Saludos de bienvenida, Zoraida. Estuve tambien en Albuquerque hasta casi los 19 años (1963-'64). Aunque tu nombre me suena, no recuerdo haberte conocido. Por casualidad tambien tengo un hermano mas joven cuyo segundo nombre es Rafael. Siempre nuestras historias aquí tienen muchos aspectos en común, pero lo mas significativo es que todos tuvimos que dejar nuestra niñez en Cuba y modificar nuestra juventud para empezar de nuevo en un lugar extraño mientras estuvimos separados por largo tiempo de nuestras familias. Aquí podemos compartir la experiencia común que vivimos y en parte capturar un hilito suelto de nuestras vidas. Espero que encuentres la satisfacción de empatar con personas conocidas y revivir la parte buena de los recuerdos de aquellos tiempos inciertos. Tu hermana Pedro Pan, Yolanda

Message by Yolanda Cardenas Ganong | Sep 25th 2009

Leave a message for Zoraida J

Your message
Your name
Your e-mail