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:

Sarah Consuelo Aguilar Castro

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After the revolution, when my parents saw that things in Cuba were deteriorating, to say the least, they took us out of school. The way the government was overtaking and making schools indoctrinate th...

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Hola Sarita,Yes, I have been friends with the Ramirez's since kindergarten. We all went to Las Salesianas en Camaguey until government took them over. I live in Cranford, NJ now. I met my husband, Rick, when we both worked in Manhattan and we have been married for 32 years. We have a son, John,25 who is still single and currently applying to Law Schools. You still look as beautiful as when you were 14! I'm answering in English because I can do it faster and don't have to worry about spelling. Feel free to e-mail me at or at my work address't have much time to spare there, but I'll know I have a message - actually, better if you e-mail to both. Great hearing from you and we can catch up as we get to write each other. Feliz Ano Nuevo!Carinos de Angelita

Message by Angela A. Ferraioli | Jan 11th 2014

Sarah Consuelo has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Jan 5th 2014

Of course I remember you! I have not actively followed Pedro Pans due to time constraints related to parents illnesses, not to mention demanding job. I will respond, time permitting and happy to hear from you!

Message by Angie Ferraioli (Angelita Alayon) | Jan 5th 2014

It has been a long time but hope is a great virtue. Plese call me (786 564 9082) as, Gerardo (GG) Girado.

Message by Gerado Girado | Sep 6th 2012

Hola Sarah Consuelo,soy primo de Irma Delgado Fonte,perdi contacto con ella desde el año 1982, lo ultimo q supe es q vivia en Tampa,por favor si usted sabe algo de ella, comunicarse conmigo

Message by Aguedo Riveron Fonte | Aug 17th 2012

Happy Birthday to you Happy birthday to you Happy Birthday dear Sary Happy Birthday to you. que pases un feliz dia Te llamo por la noche un besote

Message by Silvia E Portu | Jul 8th 2010

Sarah, glad to hear you are doing well and that this organization is keeping people connected.

Message by Alvio R Estrada Rivera | Jul 6th 2010

Mi primita recibiste el e-mail que te envie. Te quiero y nunca te olvido

Message by Rafael De Cardenas Silva | Jun 17th 2010

Happy Birthday Sarai, espero que hayas pasado un dia muy feliz en compañia de tu linda familia.

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Mar 29th 2010

Sarah Consuelo has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Mar 10th 2010

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