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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Eloisa, la mama de David Gonzalez se llama Olivia Nuñez Quijano (Gonzalez ahora). Ella fue para Iowa. Estoy tratando que Olivia se registre. Saludos,

Message by Delfin | Aug 21st 2009

Delfín, Sí, el camarógrafo nos dijo que su mamá es Pedro Pan, pero no me acuerdo del nombre. Eloísa

Message by Eloísa Echazábal | Aug 21st 2009

Eloisa, las felicito por ese programa tan bonito e interesante en el canal 23. Creo que el camarografo del Canal es hijo de una Pedro Pan. Lo sabian ustedes? Saludos,

Message by Delfin | Aug 21st 2009

Eloisa, que bonito el reportaje de La Historia de Pedro Pan. Las felicito. Me pueden dar el nombre de la señora que habla representando al Miami Herald. Quiero expresarle mi agradecimiento y felicitaciones tambien. Cariños, Carmen

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Aug 21st 2009

Eloisa: Que alegria y que orgullo senti al ver el reportaje. Creo que han logrado mucho en un corto tiempo. Gracias por toda tu dedicacion para lograrlo, y tambien gracias por representarnos. Un Abrazo

Message by Silvia E Portu | Aug 20th 2009

08/20/09 Querida Hermana: Acabo de ver el Noticiero del 23....Gracias por representarnos..........Me han dado una gran alegria. Que Dios las bendiga abundantemente Un abrazo fuerte, Otmara Capote

Message by Otmara Capote | Aug 20th 2009

Elo buenos dias como estas? me puedes mandar el e-mail de CARMEN ROMANACH. por favor para poder mandarle tambien la invitasion para la reunion ya que yo no tengo el e-mail de todos por favor. tu bienes verdad? bye FERNANDO

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Aug 18th 2009

Eloisa Olvide decirte que mi telefono esta en mi perfil. Llamame cuando quieras para lo que hablamos respecteo a mi hija. Saludos

Message by Silvia E Portu | Aug 16th 2009

Eloisa Fue un placer conocerte y poder conversar contigo ayer. El grupo va creciendo mas cada mes. Todos queremos reencontrarnos con todos lo que fueron parte de nuestras jovenes vidas. Muchas gracias por haber mantenido este proyecto vivo por tantos anos. Estan hacienco una gran labor. Un fuerte abrazo

Message by Silvia E Portu | Aug 16th 2009

Eloisa, I enjoyed meeting you yesterday. We had a great time at the breakfast and your ideas about the commemorative plaque were very helpful, by the same token, if there is anything that I can do to help you guys, do not hesitate to ask. Love, Carmen

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Aug 16th 2009

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