Ileana M Manso Campos

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Ileana M's Story

I left the island at the age of 11, with my sister Mayra (8), and two younger cousins, Vicente Orlando(9) and Jose Avelino (7). Our parents told us on April 16th, 1962, that we were leaving Cuba the next morning, and would reside in Miami. They also said they would be joining us as soon as possible. I had plenty questions, but did not get too many answers; at least none which put my fears to rest. This was very difficult for me...I did not understand, and felt responsible for my sister and cousins.

When we arrived in Miami, someone from Operation Pedro Pan was waiting for us, but also our uncle...and we went to his house. My uncle had five children of his own; now the four of us, and another cousin who arrived a month later. We lived in a two bedroom/one bath home, and we all did our very best to deal with the situation. Every Friday we would all drive to Matecumbe and pick up yet another distant cousin to stay with us until Sunday night.

For the younger kids this was fun and a vacation. This experience was very painful for me...being older I understood that it could be I would never see my parents again.

My heart still aches for those children whose last memories of their parents was through the glass of "La Pecera" (the Fish Tank)...the holding area where we were placed when surrendered to authorities, and where we were searched before traveling.

My parents did arrive in Miami a year later, and we all hoped we would be returning to our beloved Cuba soon. It was not to be! They both passed away recently...tears running down their faces, reminiscing on their land, family, friends...knowing they would never set foot on that soil ever again. I have not been back either. It is my desire to do so some day; show my place of birth to my husband, children, grandchildren...and to do it in memory of my parents, Amelia Ramona Campos and Mario Manso. They, like so many other caring parents, made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure freedom for their children...I was one of the blessed ones who got to be reunited.

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Status update | Jul 28th 2013


Message by ALEX | Apr 11th 2010

Hola, soy PAT MORALES, artista plástico, y este año estoy pintando una colección muy especial a la que nombre "PLAYGROUND". En "PLAYGROUND" conocerás niños cuyas historias han dejado huella. "Pedro y Pan, un vuelo a la libertad" MAC Building, 25 de Noviembre 2009, Hora: 7:00 pm 5960 SW 57 Ave Miami, Fl. Gracias Pat Morales

Message by Pat Morales | Sep 24th 2009

Mi hermana he creado un network para los Pedro Pan, pero en este uno puede hacer lo que quiera de su pagina y adornarla como quiera. dejaselo saber a todos que conoces y solo tienen que registrarse en y ahi me encontraran. Es buenisima y bonita pueden poner videos de cada uno o del youtube todo es para mejorar las cosas. Te veo ileana/minico

Message by Ileana Arriola (Minico) | Jul 22nd 2009

Hi Prima, All the way from across the country. I'd love to see you some time. Maribel sent me this and it just surface so many,many memories. It makes me feel very sad to have you so close and yet so far as it is. All of us have lost alot (our parents, our tio Gilberto and Tia Tuta, Tio Mario, Tia Amelia) It pains me to this day not to have been able to go to see tia Tuta, but such is life. Thanks for posting on here. And thank God that Mari emailed me. She's my connection to all of you because I don't have anyone else's email address. (I looked for my name in this list and they don't have it-I'm surprised. If you get a chance, email me once in awhile.

Message by Jesusito | Jul 14th 2009

Prima, check out my profile page. I downloaded the historic picture of the day we arrived. It is a scanned copy of a scanned copy, so the quality is somewhat lost. Love and a huge hug, Avelino

Message by Jose A Manso Sanchez | May 30th 2009

Hi Ileana! Thanks for writing and reminding me about you and your dad and mine. There is a lot about the early exile days that I don't remember. Once I catch up with my "regular life" after the work that was required to assist the Herald with their story and database, we'll have to reconnect. Muchos carinos.

Message by Eloisa Echazabal | May 23rd 2009

Ileana I believe this experience made us strongers than any normal person. That's why I'm never affraid. Since 1965 I live in Spain, where I didn't have any kind of help. Here I felt really alone, but I always knew my parents did the best for me. I can´t describe how I feel to meet you. Thank you very much. Mª.Josefa

Message by Maria Josefa Enriquez Yebra | May 23rd 2009

Tears are welling in my eyes as I read this. I didn't know you had just been told the night before, or that it took Mami & Papi a year to get here. How terrifying and desperate that must have been. I also have always wanted to visit "the Island," - being the first to be born in "the States," I felt I missed out on part of my heritage. I remember Mami telling me, "the Cuba of my day no longer exists, this (the U.S.) is our country - be very proud of it. They took us in when no one else would." My grandparents, and many others, demonstrated great courage in the face of a terrible tyrant, but even more in living here with deep respect and appreciation, always reminiscing, but never looking back. They taught us all to do our best and live with integrity no matter the place or situation. I continue to miss them. I will visit Cuba someday, meanwhile though, I will look ahead like Mami & Papi did, and like you all are. Thank you so much for sharing. Love you all... ;)

Message by Jessica (Perez) Castillo | May 21st 2009

Ellie Even though the harships were many and lots of tears were shed;in the final analysis: "We are part of the history of Cuba , our country of birth. Cariños Maruchi

Message by Maria A Carmona (Maruchi) | May 20th 2009

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