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:

Carlos A Cruz Martinez

General Information
Current Name
Carlos A Cruz Martinez
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Carlos A Cruz Martinez
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Monday, October 9, 1961
Relocated To
3702 NW 23 Ave, Miami
Stayed With
Humberto Martinez

Carlos A's Story

NOTE: You will find the following story in English, immediately after the Spanish version.

Empiezo por decir que la historia «Pedro Pan» mía, no representa algo que fue fácil, pero reconozco que t...

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Carlos A's News Feed

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Carlos A has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Apr 23rd 2011

Carlos: Estoy soprprendido de la buena memoria que tienes y de lo bien que te expresas en español y en inglés. Yo también fui a los Escolapios de la Víbora del 1956 a finales del 1959. ?Has estado en a ver las fotos de lo mal que está el barrio hoy en dia?

Message by Manuel A. Gutiérrez | Oct 17th 2010

Carlos: Thank you for your very nice message on my brother, Jorge's profile. This year my sister-in-law, my niece & nephew took his ashes to Pamplona. He will be running forever on! I've read your story and visited every step of it in my mind. I lived in la Vibora and went to Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. I guess we were almost neightbors. I hope you enjoy your journey on the PP network. Best regards.

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Aug 22nd 2010

Carlos, que coincidencia! Vi tus fotos y tengo una de mis dos hermanos vestidos con el mismo traje de vaqueros, mi hermano pequeno tambien se llama Carlos y tenia tu misma edad, por eso tambien me llamo la atencion, que casualidad. Tambien tienes fotos de Varadero, igual que yo, que linda playa! y que tiempos aquellos! Un abrazo de nuevo

Message by Carmencita Romanach | Aug 18th 2010

Carlos A has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Aug 18th 2010

Hola Carlos: A pesar de que eras tan pequeno, tienes muy buena memoria. Me dio mucha ternura cuando fuiste a recoger a tu mama en el aeropuerto y pensaste: tengo madre otra vez!!!! Muchas gracias por compartir tu historia y bienvenido a nuestro website. Un abrazo de

Message by Carmencita Romanach | Jun 17th 2010

Hey Carlos thanks for responding to my story. What can I say we are all extremely lucky. I read your's and like all of our stories they are sad, to say the least. You write in perfect Spanish, Im surprised! Good for you. my Spanish is very flaky to say the least. You failed to mention what school you went to when you settled here in Miami and area you lived in. In my heart, I'm an old hippie. I had a hard time adjusting to seeing posters of that assasin MF Che Guevara all over the place I couldnt beleive that gringos had no clue who this guy really was, I still dont,ignorance I suppose. When I was drafted and went overseas my biggest concern was being captured and being interrogated by Cuban advisors that assisted the North Vietnamese. Carlos, if that ever happenned I knew I would have to put a gun to my head and end my life right there, I couldn't imagine the consequenses. Fortunately, obviously that never happened. What line of work are you in? I've been a commodities trader for over 30 years. Can't complain...........Man, i could write to you all day. Speaking of years.How are you handling the age issue? I can't beleive Im this old. And you? Anyway, all the best to you and your family. Your friend. "Raulito" LOL

Message by Jose Arango Buzainz | Jun 17th 2010

Carlos A has updated their profile.

Status update | Jun 17th 2010

Hola, Carlos: Es muy bueno que la mayoría de nosotros, aún los mas chiquitos, hayamos mantenido el español, aunque tambien nos sintamos muy cómodos en inglés.-- Referente a mi apellido te digo que en realidad el apellido de mi familia es CárdeNES. Mi abuelo llegó a Cuba de España muy jovencito y lo inscribieron como Cardenas sin él darse cuenta, luego le dio miedo cambiarlo y así se quedó. Se pensó hacer la corrección, pero nadie tomó la iniciativa, ni siquiera yo me lo cambié cuando me hice ciudadana para no ser diferente a los demás de la familia.-- No reconozco el nombre Gonzalo de Cardenas. Yo pienso que todos esos apellidos tienen algun antepasado en común, pero ¿quién se pone a buscar? – Tu tio vive en una zona muy bonita de SC, peach growing country. -- Siento que tu papá tenga Alzheimers. Debe ser muy triste perder nuestros recuerdos. Gracias por escribirme otra vez. Aquí me tienes dispuesta a conversar, pues este PPN me ha despertado muchos recuerdos.

Message by Yolanda Cardenas Ganong | Mar 14th 2010

Carlos: Has escrito una historia muy emocionante y además has escrito en muy buen español a pesar de que llegaste tan pequeño. Te felicito.-- Veo que tu papá era contador de una firma en el Vedado. Mi padre tambien. Ahora no recuerdo el nombre de la firma, pero está en sus papeles. ¿Quien sabe si hasta fueron colegas? Me suena familiar lo que cuentas sobre que tenían que hacer guardia en la azotea. Mi papá se llama Conrado Cardenas y murió hace dos años. Nuestros padres se enfrentaron con una situación para la cual nada los hubiera preparado, pero tomaron las determinaciones correctas para poder salvarnos de la hecatombe que se avecinaba. Todavía parece increible. Gracias por poner tu historia, la cual es otro testimonio sobre la valentía y fortaleza moral de los jóvenes padres de aquellos tiempos turbulentos. Yoli

Message by Yolanda Cardenas Ganong | Mar 8th 2010

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