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, Las fotos me han dado una alegría tremenda viéndolas desde tan lejos. Ahora te voy a pedir algo más: si te es posible pon los nombres de los que aparecen para reconocerlos mejor al empatar nombres con las caras de ahora. Gracias y mas gracias por las fotos. Yoli

Message by Yolanda Cardenas Ganong | Sep 6th 2009

Guillermo, gracias por los fotos estan muy buenas

Message by Paco Echeverra | Sep 5th 2009

I will be posting pictures from today's unveiling. I will be rotating them so you can all see them.

Message by Guillermo R Paz Vazquez | Sep 5th 2009

Hola, Guillermo..ahora se quien eres. Tu esposa y yo nos divertimos bastante con todo los PP bandoleros que se ponen revoltosos. Yo trato de poner orden pero no me hacen caso. Ya se que conocistes parte de mi familia hoy. Espero que se hayan portado bien pues la unica santa en esta familia soy yo. Saludos.

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Sep 5th 2009

Guillermo, volviendo al tema de las fotos en colores. Fueron tomadas con una camara Leica, Alemana. Año 1959. Marcos

Message by Marcos F. Pinedo | Sep 4th 2009


Message by Marcos F. Pinedo | Sep 4th 2009

Guillermo, ahora mismo te deje un mensaje en el profile de tu esposa, la verdad que este (rush) buscando fotos para la competencia de caballos me tiene loca. Te felicito por tus fotos tan lindas! Otra hermanita mas de PP, Sil

Message by Silvia Budejen Trujillo | Sep 4th 2009

Guillermo, por supuesto que me gusto el regalo que quiere tu santica, te iba a pedir el catalogo para pedir uno para mi pero la ultima vez que mencione la palabra "chaleco" en este website, hasta me reganaron! Y yo soy una chica muy bien portada y seria........

Message by Carmencita Romanach | Sep 3rd 2009

Guillermo, las fotos en Espana son una verdad que pareces un puro galleguito! Desde pequeno fuiste a ver tus raices espanolas. Yo tambien tenia abuelos gallegos....y despues me toco vivir en Espana por 22 anos, una maravilla!

Message by Carmencita Romanach | Sep 3rd 2009

Guillermo Fue un gran placer conocerte y pasar un grato tan agradable con ustedes. Muchas gracias por la foto. and once again you really do a great job. Tus fotos me encantan si tienes mas cambialas de vez en cuando. No te canses mucho con en el Hurricane preparedness. Un Abrazo

Message by Silvia E Portu | Aug 16th 2009

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