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:

Arelis M Duran Marin

General Information
Current Name
Arelis M Alvarez
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Arelis M Duran Marin
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Sunday, July 8, 1962
Relocated To
CWB Florida City
Stayed With
Carmen Carrion

Arelis M's Story

I arrived to Miami, FL with my brother, Candido on 7/8/62. I was 11 years old and he was 14. They left him in Matecumbe and they took me to Florida City. I arrived at night. I was placed in Carmen...

Click here to read the full story

Arelis M's News Feed

Leave a public message for Arelis M.

Page 1 2 3 Next >>

Arelis, Wow, estas igualita. Que alegria me da re-encontrarnos. Especialmente ahora que voy a tener mi 50aniversario de mi llegada a USA. Ahora estoy viviendo en Tampa. Tu sigues viviendo en NJ? Me da mucha alegria volver a conectarnos.

Message by Barbara E Tuero Jimenez | Aug 20th 2012

Si, Arelis, sigo en Costa Mesa, CA. Pienso tomar mis vacaciones en La Florida en noviembre. Me gustaria coordinarlas con tu viaje anual para encontrarnos despues de 50 anios.

Message by Enrique J Sera Hernandez | Jul 15th 2012

Arelis M has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Dec 1st 2011

Arelis. no me olvidado de ustedes. es que no he tenido tiempo de haser naDa despues de la muerte de mi padre, con el trabajo nuevo y tener que cuidar a mi madre. a penas tengo tiempo de nada. saluda A esa persona tan grande y humilde y muy buena que es tu marido [ LUIS] DICHOSA TU QUE LO PUDISTES LIGAR!!!!!!! abrasos a los dos de mi parte. bye FERNANDO

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Jan 30th 2011

Oye ustedes dos estan vivos o se mudaron de NEW JERSEY? cuando tengan tiempo manden a decir algo o llamemen ok. bye y saludos y cariños a los dos ok. bye FERNANDO

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Jun 6th 2010

Arelis M says: Juanita: Great pictures, lots of memories. Besos!!!

Status update | May 30th 2010

Estoy buscando a Barbara Tuero. Ella es prima de mi mama Beatriz Miranda. Hice buscada en el internet y solo la encuentro en esta pagina. Por favor, si la vez dale nuestros datos. Mi mama se pondra muy feliz!!

Message by Betty Miranda | May 27th 2010

Arelis y Luis, como estan mis hermanitos que no se olvidan de mi? pues siempre me escribes a mi e-mail con tus mensajes tan carinosos, ya te conte como estoy de atareada con mis padres y nietos, ya Manzur esta mucho pero mucho mejor a Dios gracias. Bueno un fuerte beso y abrazo y nunca los olvido su hermanita, Sil

Message by Silvia Budejen Trujillo | Feb 6th 2010

MRS alvarez. hase tiempo que no se nada de los cubanos en new jersey? como sigue tu esposo el es tan amable y siempre llama a uno para saber como estamos que corazon tan bueno tiene el verdad? saludos a los dos y que pasen unas buenas navidades ok. promete que le vas a regalar algo ok. el pobre el se lo merese ok. bye FERNANDO

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Dec 19th 2009

Arelis mi hermanita gracias por todo, y por preocuparte por la salud de mami. Gracias, Besitos, Sil

Message by Silvia Budejen Trujillo | Dec 4th 2009

Page 1 2 3 Next >>

Leave a message for Arelis M

Your message
Your name
Your e-mail