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:

Berta de los A Ayo Garcia

General Information
Current Name
Berta Ayo
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Berta de los A Ayo Garcia
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Saturday, July 14, 1962
Relocated To
CWB Florida City

Berta de los A's Story

I was born in "La Vibora" Havana, Cuba. When I left Cuba to come to the US; I lived in Ampliacion de Almendares, now called "Playa". I arrived in CWB Florida City on July 15th 1962. I was tranfer...

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Y yo que creia que yo era tu Pedro Pan favorita! Sob, sob. Pero yo tambien quiero a Silvita. :-)

Message by Eloísa Echazábal | Jul 22nd 2013

Berta de los A has updated their profile.

Status update | Jul 22nd 2013

buenas berta, yo tambien soy de la habana y vine para aca creo que el mismo dia que su hermano 01/18/1962, yo tambien fui llevado para el kendall y de ahi me mandaron para st.mary's en new bedford

Message by gilberto fernandez padron | Jul 18th 2013

Berta, it's La Víbora (meaning The Viper) but in modern maps it's called Santos Suárez.

Message by Manuel A. Gutiérrez | Dec 31st 2012

Hi Berta, I too was born in Havana, I came on 2/27/1962 and I recall that we lived in "La Bibora", at least I remember hearing that name. You may not believe this but until I saw the CNBC special about The Peter Pan Kids, I didn't know about the Cuban exodus. Anyway it's nice to hear about someone that lived in the vicinity in La Havana.

Message by Jose A Hernandez Fernandez | Jun 13th 2012

Love You my sister Bertica, AKA. Meredith Vieara look alike Besitos....Pepito.

Message by Jose Ayo | May 14th 2012

Berta de los A has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Apr 26th 2012

Berta de los A has updated their profile.

Status update | Apr 26th 2012

Atta girl!!!

Message by Eloísa Echazábal | Apr 25th 2012

Bertica, you posted your story!!! But nothing about Ampliación de Almendares?

Message by Eloísa Echazábal | Apr 25th 2012

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