Juan C Morales Brunet

General Information
Current Name
Juan C Morales Brunet
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Juan C Morales Brunet
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Monday, May 28, 1962
Relocated To
CWB Florida City

Juan C's Story

I arrived in Florida on 5/28/62, 3 days before my 11th birthday. Although I had traveled a lot in Cuba, I always traveled with family. This time, however, it was different. I will never forget the la...

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Juan C's News Feed

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Dear Juan: Thanks for sharing your story. Indeed, we were very lucky in having been able to reunite with our parents while other Pedro Pan children never did, as you pointed out. I would like, however, to add that the number of those who did not reunite is still unknown. Whether it was many or just some or even a few is still a matter of much contention. A study conducted in 1980 by Sylvia Pedraza, Research Director of the Senate Steering Committee, found that by 1966 (two years after the Freedom Flights were initiated by the Johnson Administration) only 375 children were still in the Unaccompanied Cuban Refugee Children’s Program, which was created by the Kennedy Administration in February 1961 to care for Operation Pedro Pan children under the auspices of the Catholic Welfare Bureau, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, Children’s Service Bureau, and other institutions. I quote: “A difficult problem confronted by the Cuban Refugee Center was that of unaccompanied children arriving in increasing numbers during the Sixties. Between 13,000 and 15,000 children arrived altogether, and although most went live with friends and relatives, thousands were homeless. On February 21, 1961, the Unaccompanied Cuban Refugee Children’s Program was created to place these arrivals in foster homes. Statistics compiled in 1967, indicated that as of that year 8,331 children had been cared for through the program, with the peak occurring in October 1962 [the month of the Cuban Missile Crisis], when 4,100 children were receiving foster care. The problem, however, proved to be only temporary, for the parents of most eventually found means to escape Cuba. Thus by 1965 only 1,449 children remained in the program, and two years later [after the Freedom Flights had began] the number had been further reduced to 375.” Now, if we take at face value 14,048, -the figure most widely cited for total number of children taking part in Operation Pedro Pan is 14,048-, as the total number of unaccompanied Cuban refugee children who arrived with visa waivers through Operation Pedro Pan between December 1960 and October 1962, most of which were by the way granted by the Catholic Welfare Bureau, then 375 children constitute only 2% of the total that had not been reunited with their parents by the end of 1967. In November 2000, the late Msgr. Walsh addressed this issue in discussions with the authors of the Cuban Encyclopedia, who during the preparation of the section devoted to Operation Pedro Pan estimated the figure to be around 4% (560). I quote: “Any estimate of the children who never saw their parents again is pure guesswork. From purely anecdotic information, we know that that there were many different reasons. In some cases parents died. One of the biggest factors was that the Cuban government did not allow boys between the ages 0f 15 and 26 to leave on the Freedom Flights between 1965 and 1973. So families were faced with leaving a teenager alone in Cuba to be reunited with his older siblings in the U.S. Others stayed behind to care for an elderly parent. Many elderly fathers were reluctant to face an uncertain life in the U.S. while they still had a home in Cuba.” “Our records ceased when the individual was discharged from the program. This means that we had no way of tracking family reunions for those who were never under [CWB] care, or who left the program at age 19.” “I know of about 20 [Pedro Pan children who were never reunited with parents].” Juan, I have in my possession a letter written by a Pedro Pan mother in 2009 detailing the two key reasons why she never reunited with her only child despite his eagerness to have her come to the United States. First, because of her age, she felt she couldn’t adapt to a new culture and begin life anew. Second, she feared government reprisals if she was refused an exit visa and had to remain in the island. But, be that as it may, the primary reason I’m taking the time to point out discrepancies in the figures often cited for the number of children who never reunited is because 2 % to 4% is a far cry from the numbers given by the Cuban government and detractors of the program. For instance, in a February 2000 interview with the Boston Globe, a university professor and former Pedro Pan child sympathetic to the Castro regime cited 50% (7,024) as the number of Pedro Pan children who were never reunited. Such baseless claims, in my opinion, not only distort the historical record, but are aimed at disparaging the operation itself. Of course, this is an area that should be researched thoroughly so that we don’t have to engage in guesswork. Should ever come across information that can be of assistance to those of us who want to keep the record straight, please do not hesitate to contact me. Best wishes and warm regards, José Antonio Amaro Reyes.

Message by Marcia Caridad Ramos Gonzalez | Jan 8th 2011

Juan C has updated their profile.

Status update | Jan 7th 2011

Hola, Juan: I am glad to know your parents came soon after you did -lucky indeed! --You expressed a wish about having a Pedro Pan reunion in your NYC area. A group of us just got together last weekend in Central Florida and we had a great time. Justo Martínez and Susy Garrandes organized the event. Now with the website you might be able to get something going about a reunion in your area. But you can do like I've done and go to reunions in other places -Pedro Pans welcome one another everywhere. So, I hope you have one there, 'cause I LOVE NEW YORK and would use any excuse to visit the area. Hang in there. Some trees are blooming in SC already, so Spring is going your way soon!

Message by Yolanda Cardenas Ganong | Mar 12th 2010

Juan, some have tried kicking me out but I just refuse to go and stay put...although, I always have my passport ready just in case I need to exile again...where? I don't know! Maybe la Conchinchina (wherever that is). No, I was not in Fla. City on that date. I arrived 3/23/62 and left on 5/3/62 for Vincennes, Indiana. I stayed in Indiana till 9/5/65 and my oldest brother pulled me from the orphanage to Union City, NJ. So my first culture shock was from Cuba to Indiana and the second was from an orphanage in a sleepy midwest town to New Jersey and then New York. Well, just in case, if INS catches you, don't show that passport! ha ha!

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Mar 11th 2010

Juan: I see your visa was good until 5/27/63...I guess you overstayed your welcome!! ha ha! I enjoyed the photographs..thank you for posting them.

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Mar 11th 2010

Love your story, right to the point..all the best!!

Message by Jose Arango Buzainz | Mar 5th 2010

Juan: You left Cuba at the same age as my brother, one of the younger ones who arrived here confused and excited at the same time. I would like to hear if and when you were reunited with your parents. Welcome to our band of brothers and sisters at this website and keep the stories going. Un abrazo de Yolanda

Message by Yolanda Cardenas Ganong | Feb 22nd 2010

Juan C has updated their profile.

Status update | Feb 21st 2010

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