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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Estimado Guillermo Me dejas poner tu historia en mi blog? muy bien escrita y quiero que nuestras historias lleguen a mas oídos que los nuestros. Soy amiga de Yolanda Cardenas y Carmencita Romañach ha comentado en mi blog. Llegué a los 14 años a Kendall. Vivo en Oregon.

Message by Adrianne Miller | Oct 12th 2010

Guillermo R has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Aug 22nd 2010

Hola hermanito: Ayer compre la revista y mucha fue mi emocion al ver lo bonita que quedo. Gracias por todo lo que haces por ayudar a que todos conozcan nuestra verdadera historia. Todos quedamos muy lindos, como hemos cambiado!!! Yo creo que el que mas se parece eres tu. El stamp quedo perfecto. Great quality. Un abrazo.

Message by Silvia E Portu | Aug 11th 2010

Guillermo, gracias por esa portada tan linda de la revista Ideal......quedo muy bonita y muy apropiada para la ocasion. Es increible que todos hemos querido conservar ese pasaporte aunque no lo hayamos vuelto a usar nunca mas. Cuba sigue estando y estara en nuestros corazones siempre. Un abrazo y gracias de nuevo por haber plasmado en esa portada todo ese sentimiento que tenemos.

Message by Carmencita Romanach | Aug 5th 2010

Guillermo R has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Jul 28th 2010

Thanks for your visit and dinner ,has been a good time to see you again.

Message by Francisco Penela Solans | Jul 16th 2010

Guillermo R says: Felicidades en este día a todas las Carmen incluyendo la mía.

Status update | Jul 16th 2010

Guillermo, me quede frio cuando vi la estampa de Carmencita que pusistes en tu site. Que sorpresa la fecha que tiene, tal parece que fue una prediccion de el futuro de todos nosotros.No se si tu sabes,que empleados de la KLM y Pan America fueron los que facilitaron consiguir muchos pasajes y asientos en nuestra salida de Cuba.Estos empleados de una forma u otra estaban relacionados con nuestros colegios y nuestra iglesia Catolica. Es claro que Dios nos saco de ese infierno.La Fe en El y Cachita le dieron la fuerza a nuestros padres para poder soportar la separacion. Gracias por poner esta estampa! Tu hermano...MELVIN

Message by Melvin F Noriega Plasencia | Jul 11th 2010

In the words of the ancient Chinese philosopher of war Sun Tzu written 25 centuries ago. “Break the will of the enemy to fight and accomplish the true objective of war. Cover with ridicule the enemy’s tradition. Exploit and aggravate the frictions within the enemy’s country. Turn the young against the old. The supreme excellence is not to win 100 victories in 100 battles. The supreme excellence is to defeat your enemies without ever having to fight.”

Message by Guillermo R Paz Vazquez | Jul 11th 2010

Guillermo R has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Jul 11th 2010

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