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:

Juan M. Pazos Maldonado


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Provided by one of the Wichita boys. John M. Pazos Born in Holguin, Cuba on Aug. 25, 1948 Departed on Nov. 14, 2012 and resided in Indianapolis, IN. Visitation: Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm Service: Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012 10:00 am Cemetery: Calvary Cemetery John M. Pazos "Juancy" passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family on November 14, 2012. On August 25th 1948 John was born in Holguin, Cuba to parents (Juan Pazos and Maria Maldonado) who precede him in death. John was sent to the U.S. as part of the largest mass exodus of unaccompanied children, better known as the "Peter Pan Exodus" in which Cuban families sent their children to the U.S. to protect them from Castro's in doctrine. He resided in Wichita, Kansas at the "Mariana House" until 1965. When his family was finally able to flee Cuba, they reunited in Indianapolis. He earned a B.S. degree in Business and worked 38 years as an Operations Manager at Rolls Royce. John is survived by his wife of 39 years Jeannie Pazos (Lenahan), sister Marilyn Pazos (Arden), son Alex Pazos (Shannon), daughters Jennifer Bonnell (Jay); Melissa Doughman (Thomas J.); grandchildren Landen Pazos, Blake and Sophia Bonnell, nephew Michael (Melanie) and Chiqui Garcia Roche (Teo), as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins both here in the U.S. and in Cuba. John enjoyed remodeling projects, cooking, gardening and boating. He was an avid Colts fan and was very proud to participate as a translator for the Pan Am Games. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held 10 a.m. Wed. Nov. 21, 2012 at St. Susanna Catholic Church in Plainfield with visitation from 4 to 8 p.m. Tues. in Conkle Funeral Home Speedway Chapel. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association or the American Cancer Society

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Nov 18th 2012

Juanito, estimado amigo holguinero de la infancia, que Dios te guarde en la Gloria y descanses en Paz. José Antonio Amaro Reyes.

Message by Jose Antonio Amaro Reyes | Nov 15th 2012

Juanito, la última vez que me topé contigo fue en el centro comercial de Wichita. Yo había viajado a ésta para comprar gomas para el carro. No te veía desde Matecumbe. Conversamos brevemente y me contaste que no te gustaba Kansas. Años después no sé quién me me dijo que vivías en Indiana. Quizás fue tu primo segundo, Joselín, cuando me trasladé a Carolina del Norte. ¡Cómo han pasado los años desde que íbamos al teatro de tu abuelo Wenceslao y jugábamos baloncesto en la cancha del Instituto de Holguín!

Message by Marcia Caridad Ramos Gonzalez | Jun 8th 2009

Juan Pazos please contact someone from the Mariana Home so we can add you to our list.

Message by George Mas Enjamio | May 30th 2009

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