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:

Silvia G. Budejen Reyes

General Information
Current Name
Silvia Budejen Trujillo
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Silvia G. Budejen Reyes
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Saturday, July 14, 1962
Relocated To
CWB Florida City
Stayed With
Rodriguez-Walling y Delia Diaz de Villar

Silvia G.'s Story

This person has not yet filled out their story about their flight as a part of Operation Pedro Pan.

Silvia G.'s News Feed

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Silvia, Delia Diaz de Villar fue mi abuela. Me gustaria saber si tienes fotos de ella o de mi abuelito durante el exilio. Muchas gracias.

Message by Ana Maria Villar | Sep 24th 2012

Silvia al fin te encontre! te acuerdas de tu amiguita Santiaguera yoyita la Candela? Yo nunca me he olvidado de ti y siento tanto el haber perdido tanto tiemppo en encontrarte qu desde estos momentos en adelante no parare asta PODER HABLAR CONTIGO! tambien voy ha buscar a Gloria Esther, a Marisol y a Emmaetc Hay Dios voy a tener que retirarme para dedicarme a vuscarlas a todas ustedes si ves este mensaje escribeme por favor.

Message by Ana Miyares | Dec 11th 2011

Silvia, que paso que estabas en la fiesta o no nos encontramos. Carinos Tete

Message by Maria T Extremera Hernandez de Armas | Nov 21st 2010

Dear Silvia, I went there to find you and was sorry I did not. The reunion was beautiful and wish you would have attended. Your great bublish personality has always stayed with my memories of those two years in Florida City. Keep in touch. As you see by the messages your friends have left here, you are a very important part of their lives. Love you, Niurka

Message by Niurka A Strong | Nov 15th 2010

Silvia mi harmanita te estrañe mucho este weekend ojala que hubieras podido venir la pasamos muy bien. Yo fui al tour de los campamentos y a la cena de gala. Todo estuvo precioso. Besos, escribeme.

Message by Sarah Consuelo Aguilar Valdes | Nov 14th 2010

Silvia, we missed you at this weekend events. Florencia Llovet vino esperando verte y trate de comunicarme contigo para decirtelo y no di contigo. Ivonne y Tere Pando vinieron de California, Virginia Vargas nos sorprendio en la fiesta; Mercedita Argiz nos deleito con una cancion que compuso sobre nosotros. Tambien estaban: Tete Extremera, Haydee Gabeiras, Cristina Iñigo, Normita Suarez, Amparito y Maria Elena Milian, Tere y Manilu Paneque, Niiurka Momfort, Yolanda Cardenas, Margarita Senra, Gladys Suazo, Niurka Romero, Carmen Guerra, Esperanza y Alejandra Gutierrez, Silvia Portu, Oneida y Elda Moreno, Tere Diaz, Lourdes Alvarez, Virginia Bezanilla, Maria y Nancy Pedrazo, Melvin y Pepe Noriega, Zoe Carvajal, Miriam Leon, Caruca Cesari, Sara y Mariam Aguilar, Otmara Capote Mimi Fernandez y esta hermanita que te quiere. Where are you? please let us hear from you.

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Nov 14th 2010

Silvia G. has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Nov 14th 2010

Silvia G. has updated their profile.

Status update | Nov 10th 2010

Ola Silvia, solo para saber como siguen tus padres, un beso. Tete

Message by Maria T Extremera Hernandez de Armas | Sep 26th 2010

Hola Silvia, solo para saber como siguen tus padres, espero esten mejor. Un abrazo

Message by Maria T Extremera Hernandez de Armas | Sep 12th 2010

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