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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Sil: I deleted a previous message sin darme cuenta. En el te decia que hoy amaneci pensando en tantos PP hermanos(a) que he conocido gracias al PPN y la oportunidad de conectarnos unos con otros y tantos ratos que nos pasamos riendonos (mucho mejor que llorar). Para mi fue en un momento muy oportuno que me ha ayudado a levantarme los animos en estos ultimos meses tan dificil para mi familia. Me dio mucho gusto participar aunque fuera un momento por telefono con ustedes ayer. Si Dios quiere, pronto nos veremos en persona y que nos han prometido que la vamos a pasar muy chevere. Un beso.

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Oct 18th 2009

Silvia, fue un placer para mí también conocerte ayer. Gracias por tus lindas palabras. Cariños, Eloísa

Message by Eloísa Echazábal | Oct 18th 2009

Gracias, Sil..esperare ver las fotos...yo tambien me retiro porque tuve un dia largo y atariado. Ahora voy a relax y empezar un libro que me llego hoy que me lo recomendo un hermano PP. Goodnight...till tomorrow, si Dios quiere.

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Oct 17th 2009

Sil, creeme que si hubiera estado un poquito mas cerca, me hubiera aparecido pero la distancia es mucha. Pero aunque fuera por telefono, yo no me lo iba a perder por completo. Ya se que la pasaron muy bien.....

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Oct 17th 2009

Y yo que?

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Oct 17th 2009

Silvia, por supuesto que me acuerdo de ti. No sabes la alegria que me da poder comunicarme de nuevo con mis amigas the Florida City

Message by Luisa Llovet | Oct 16th 2009

Sil: Esto no es aceptable....Los Versalleros estaban buscando guerra y aqui se la encontraron. Los de animales ferozes y ancianos se referian a todas nosotras.

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Oct 15th 2009

Silvia, tu sabes a quien se referian con lo de fieras y lo de viejas? Yo creo que nos deben una explicacion, esto es unacceptable. Carmen

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Oct 15th 2009

Estimada Silvia: No sabes cuánto me agrada que saques a relucir una vez más una de las muchas virtudes que poseemos esos seres humanos a quienes Dios les concedió el privilegio de nacer en la brillante perla oriental de nuestra añorada isla: nuestro gran calor humano. Por lo tanto no me queda más remedio que postularte con el mayor agrado para el cargo de Embajadora de Por Vida de la Provincia de Oriente. Afectuosamente, José Antonio.

Message by Marcia Caridad Ramos Gonzalez | Oct 15th 2009

Hello Sil Saludos, muchas gracias por lo de "muchacho" you made my day , desafortunadamente no voy a poder asistir a este desayuno pero si estare presente en el proximo, veras es que yo resido en Sevilla,Andalucia Spain desde hace algun tiempo y estoy intentando regresar a Miami pero tengo varios cabos que atar todavia,well sis sure looking forward to see you all soon,bye now un abrazo "El Frances"

Message by Eddie Enrique Fernandez Tramezaygues | Oct 15th 2009

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