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:

Clara M Janer Gomez

General Information
Current Name
Clara M Janer
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Clara M Janer Gomez
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Wednesday, December 20, 1961
Relocated To
CWB - Florida City
Stayed With
The Uzueta family in Albuquerque, NM

Clara M's Story

I have no recollection of my arrival in the U.S. I came with my older cousing (15) Beda L. Hernandez Gomez, but we were separated as soon as we arrived. He was sent to Matacumbe & I was sent to Flori...

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Clara M's News Feed

Leave a public message for Clara M.

Hi Clara, Please know in your heart that you are not alone! It was a very emotional experience, feelings of rejection, not understanding why our parents were sending us away; truly traumatic for many, especially the young ones like you. I was 13, and although I understood better than others, I still have what I call 'lagoons' of those times. In talking, we heal. Please feel free to write to us; we are here for you. If you even remember the first name of your Florida City 'sisters' you can search for them through the Database; it only requires patience and persistence. I have found six of them. Our Creator was very compasionate, and allowed for our subconscious mind to store those circumstances that were not pleasant or that hurt us. A regression should be conducted by a Psychologist or a Certified Hypnotherapist. Only go to a professional because it can be a very dangerous episode otherwise. Taking you back in time can place you in situations that you don't want to be, and only a professional can help you get out of them. You can also write to me at my personal email which you can see in my profile. Believe me, once you understand and place all in perspective, you will realize the great sacrifices our parents made, and how very blessed we are. Your sister in journey, Betty

Message by Beatriz Amézaga-Wolf | Aug 23rd 2010

Clara, it is understandable that you don't remember much, you were very young. I was 15 going on 16 and I don't remember anything from the day I left. I remember the night before I left but not much from the actual day of departure. Also, the mind blocks the bad memories as protection as the events were very strong emotionally. Please feel welcome to this website and enjoy the especial bond that we all pedropans share....there are many of us with a soft spot for the younger ones like

Message by Carmencita Romanach | Aug 23rd 2010

Clara, I am sorry that you cannot remember that time period. I came at almost age 8, and I do remember a lot. However, not everyone is the same. You have probably already done this, but asking your cousin, parents or foster parents might help bring back some of the memories. Your "regression" idea, is best left up to a professional to advise you on it. Best wishes, Carlos

Message by Carlos A Cruz Martinez | Aug 23rd 2010

Clara M has updated their profile.

Status update | Aug 11th 2010

Clara M has joined the Pedro Pan Network. Please welcome them!

Status update | Aug 11th 2010

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