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:

Eloísa Echazábal Pi

General Information
Current Name
Eloísa Echazábal
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Eloísa Echazábal Pi
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Wednesday, September 6, 1961
Relocated To
Kendall Camp and Buffalo, NY
Haiti Pedro Pan
Eloísa has volunteered to help the children of Haiti. Find out how you can help, too.

Eloísa's Story

My story is unique, as is each one of the over 14,000 Pedro Pan stories. Some are happier; some are sadder. I believe the decision to send my sister and me alone to the United States was made by my pa...

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Eloísa's News Feed

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Dear Pedro Pans: The new Florida International University president, Dr. Mark Rosenberg, would like to know how many Pedro Pans are FIU graduates. He is thinking of having an event at FIU next year with Pedro Pan FIU graduates to celebrate our 50th anniversary. I was Dr. Rosenberg's student in 78/79 and worked for him at FIU for 5 years before he went to Tallahassee to become the Chancellor of all Florida universities. He asked me to assist him with his project. If you are a Pedro Pan FIU graduate, please email me or the Administrator, and we'll pass the information on to Dr. Rosenberg. Cariños, Eloísa

Message by Eloísa Echazábal | Oct 25th 2009

Eloisa En la cubana es perro y en la china perro y nina bonita, pero en la de PP se lo tendras que dar a Fernando. Me encanto compartir un rato tan agradable el Sabado. No podemos perder la costumbre. Un abrazo

Message by Silvia E Portu | Oct 19th 2009

Oye la lengua te la comio el gato? y los dedos te los mordio el cangrejo? sigue escribiendo ok. yo se que yo no estoy en tu grupo social, pero me se comportarme bien ok. bye FERNANDO

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Oct 19th 2009

Eloisa...dime un numero....creo que te lo sacastes hoy! Make it a great day! Saludos.

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Oct 19th 2009

ELO FIJATE SI tu y SUSY me tienen tan nervioso que escribi un mensaje para ti y me lo mande yo mismo asi que ve a mi profile para que lo leas que ese fue escrito pra ati

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Oct 19th 2009

mira hoy mismo sin tu planearlo y sin darte de cuentas entraste en nuestro grupo que hablamos y fastidiamos el dia entero. osea que todo el mundo esta invitado a entrar y fijate que facil fue. tomaste el tiempo de haserlo y no te costo nada asi que nadie tiene el derecho de decir que no fueron invitados y si eso es lo que me hase ami ser dificult entonces lo soy verdad?

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Oct 19th 2009

Elo esta es lo unico que yo se haser para mantener mi caracter y mi sanida. si no lo hisiera yo se que contodos los problemas que tengo diariamente me volveria loco. todos en realida somos iguales la unica diferencia es cada uno de nosotros empleamos diferente maneras de haserlo. no crees que es verdad? ponte a pensar tu mismo si cada dia que te levantas nada mas que piensas en lo malo que lo tienes todo y tus problemas y que todo el mundo esta contra ati? explicame adonde tu crees que vas a llegar. pero de todas maneras dejame darte las gracias por tu mensaje positivo.

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Oct 19th 2009

Porque tu dices que soy un caso perdido?y quiero que sepas que yo quiero a todo el mundo igual. vas a tener que ser mas difinitiva ok

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Oct 19th 2009

Eloisa, buenos dias. Gracias a esos casos perdido como Fernandin, son los que terminan alegrandonos la vida. Creo que todos lo queremos como tu. Saludos.

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Oct 19th 2009

Eloisa, gracias por todo lo que haces, eres encantadora pasamos un rato devino ayer en el desayuno y en casa de nuestra hermanita (o) Carmen y Guille. Besos, Sil

Message by Silvia Budejen Trujillo | Oct 18th 2009

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