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:

Guillermo R Paz Vazquez

General Information
Current Name
Guillermo R Paz Vazquez
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Guillermo R Paz Vazquez
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Tuesday, October 10, 1961
Relocated To
Haiti Pedro Pan
Guillermo R has volunteered to help the children of Haiti. Find out how you can help, too.

Guillermo R's Story

The year was 1958, I was 8 years old and my life from my perspective was good. I had two wonderful parents and a loving sister who was 2 years older than I. My father was a self made man who arrived ...

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Guillermo, I just posted the photo of Kendall taken in March 2009. Eloísa

Message by Eloísa Echazábal | Oct 2nd 2009

Guillermo muchas gracias por tu carta de recomendasion sobre esos dos pedro panes QUE SON licinsiados. me senti muy bien despues de leerla y se la yebe a mi padre para que tambien la viera y despues que el leyo tu carta , LO PRIMERO QUE ME DIJO FUE hijo esots licinsiados que GUILLERMO te esta recomendado dejame decirte que si los cambias por TELA METALICA SE PIERDEN LOS HUEQUITOS, empiesa aser tu maleta y trata de visitar a tu madre y a mi antes de tu juicio por que mi hijto va a pasar un tiempo largo antes de que tu madre y yo te vamos aver otra ves. oye una pregunta tu crees que me pueda quedar en el mismo edificio donde tu estas? bye FERNANDO PS. como esta CARMEN has sabido mas de ella? ella te escribe verdad? cuando la veas en unos de esos fin de semana que te va a visitar saludad de mi parte. bye soon to be your room mate FERNANDO COLLADO

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Oct 2nd 2009


Message by Susy Rodriguez | Oct 2nd 2009

Guillermito: You innocent bystander. Just wanted to say goodnight because I will soon tune out. Please don't forget the 2 things you have pending with me. Amarito and I need the business and we won't get it without your letter of recommendation. Also, Carmen and I are waiting for the design of our cheerleading outfits with the Boston Celtics. Mr. Amaro is going to make big big bucks when he signs that contract.

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Oct 1st 2009

Guille. Ok, I put them back...Thanks...

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Oct 1st 2009

Hello Guillermo, I recently saw a message from someone who visited Camp Kendall and did not find the bldgs. where we lived. Was it you? I have a photo of a year ago of the girls' building. As soon as I find it I'll post it. Cariños, Eloísa

Message by Eloísa Echazábal | Oct 1st 2009

Oh, yes

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Sep 30th 2009

Guille: After much thought and pondering in the middle of the night, I have decided to concede and give you this victory. I do not want to attempt a response and run the risk of offending a nice person (not you, of course). It would be like a mother insulting her "child". Therefore, sir, the VICTORY IS YOURS. You did an outstanding job and you got me.

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Sep 29th 2009

Guillermito Anonymous: Ni te pienses por un minuto que no te tengo respuesta. However, I'm finishing up some accounting w/deadline of 9/30 and I need to concentrate. I'm also exhausted from the trip so I'm not coming back to this tonight. Go ahead have a hey day at my expense but just remember that tomorrow is another day and I'll be back bright and early. Mua Mua

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Sep 28th 2009

Are you still thinking on how to get back at me? Boy, grandma was slow but she was old. Also, please, when you have a chance send me the lyrics to that musical piece that reminded us of your other counsel or at least the name of it so I can look it up.

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Sep 28th 2009

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