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 querida: Conocerte en persona no fue ninguna sorpresa, pues ya me parecia que nos conociamos de siempre. Lo bueno fue darte un abrazo. Hasta pronto! Yoli

Message by Yolanda Cardenas Ganong | Nov 10th 2009

Oye guajira santiaguera te perdistes con tu llegua el domingo? te esperamos hasta el final del dia fijate que hasta por poco pierdo el vuelo. desde ahora en adelante le voy a tener que haser caso a tu hermano ok. no me queda otro remedio. adios de tu hermano de MATANZAS. FERNANDO, una pregunta, que tal te paresio mi guajira de CAMAGUEY? MUY bonita que esta y muy elegante tambien no crees? la perdi por estar comiendo DAMIER. ñoco que bobo fui!!!!!!!!

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Nov 9th 2009

Silvia, I posted some pictures on this site on my page. Please, take a look at them and see if you know any of the girls..The date on the photos is March 1962. Cariños, seida

Message by Seida R Tamargo Gutierrez | Nov 9th 2009

Sil, this is not for para 'MI BABY, MI BABY LINDO'...Ricardo, te acompaño en el sentimiento...hay que hacerte una estatua de chicle mascado...a lo mejor la ponemos al lado del PP monument! I had a great time with both of you....

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Nov 8th 2009

Hola Silvia, claro que yo me acuerdo mucho de ti, yo siempre me he mantenido en contacto con "Manzurito" atra vez de los anos. La ultima vez que te vi fue en un compleanos de el en su casa, eso debe haber sido hace unos 15 anos.

Message by Miguel M De la Torre Fernandez | Nov 5th 2009

Silvia, So sorry I have taken so long to answer you, my apologies!! I was looking a your photos & unfortunately I am not in any of them. Is so much fun to look at those photos & all the memories that come back from the Rodriguez Walling family, such wonderful people!! We had so much fun with them especially "papi" and "his muchachitas". Do you know if they are still alive?? I came 12/1961 & was sent to Indiana with a family sometime in March/April of 1962, not sure of the date ,but I do remember arriving in the winter time in Indiana.I spent 5 years with this family, every Thanksgiving my family & I visit them. I remember Yvonne & Andrea,two of the girls in the house. Keep in touch!! I live in Maryland for the past 30 some years. Seida

Message by Seida R Tamargo Gutierrez | Nov 4th 2009

Silvia, aunque un poco tarde, pero me uno a las felicitaciones, Happy Birthday! You look great! Ya celebraremos este fin de semana si Dios quiere.....Un beso

Message by Carmencita Romanach | Nov 3rd 2009

Silvita, Te estuve llamando para felicitarte pero no contestas. Esta es la unica vez desde que te conozco que creo te felicito por tu cumpleaños. Pero esta demás decirte que en le nombre de mi hermano George y yo te deseamos lo mejor y que los dos te queremos mucho aunque no te hayamos felicitado antes. Cariños Pepe Artiles

Message by Joe E. Artiles | Nov 3rd 2009

Hola Silvia, Happy, Happy 15th Birthday; For the fourth time. Que la pases Suuuuuuuuuuper!!!!!!!!!, Carmen

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Nov 3rd 2009


Message by Silvia E Portu | Nov 3rd 2009

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